How to Transition from Packaged Products to the Cloud

Mike HarrisWith all the talk about the cloud, you’d think most companies, at this point, would be discussing how they can make use of the power and flexibility it offers. And you’d be right – for the most part. According to the International Data Corporation (IDC), the worldwide market for SaaS offerings is on track to grow by around 20 percent per year through 2018 (exceed $100 billion).

Of course, this is no surprise to most you reading this. At least, I’d assume not. Cloud computing allows for faster processing speeds, better network connections, lower delivery and support costs, and improved customer experiences.

Despite this, only eight percent of the revenues of the top 100 software companies come from SaaS models. The reason is largely because of the challenges that face companies as they wish to move their offerings to the cloud, including security concerns.

That’s where the article, “From Box to Cloud,” from McKinsey & Company proves useful. The article offers 6 principles for a successful switch from, well, box to cloud. We’re sharing the principles here, with our thoughts, in hopes that more companies will capitalize on the power of cloud.

  1. Minimum viable products – Cloud almost necessitates “light” versions of software – or minimally viable products. Develop your cloud-based software with the assumption that it will be tested and refined on an ongoing basis. It doesn’t have to be the final version!
  2. Users are key – With cloud, your development team should be engaging with their customers as often as possible, again, on an ongoing basis. Their real-time feedback is important – and something that developers can use to their advantage, by A/B testing features to assess and refine for the future.
  3. Failure will happen – In packaged software, bugs are seen as a major failure. With cloud, bugs are expected – and can (and should) be fixed quickly. Software maintenance should be easier in the cloud, and some developers even simulate failures regularly to make their own adjustments.
  4. Agile! – Look, we know that we talk about Agile all the time, but that’s because we know the value it offers, and if you’re moving to cloud, Agile is a must-have. The cloud functions best in an environment of continuous release, which is a tenant of Agile. DevOps, which brings together IT and R&D, is also useful in the cloud. On the whole, frequent releases can help manage risk and complexity. And, as the article notes, Agile teams can increase their productivity by about 27 percent and improve the timeliness of feature releases by 30 percent!
  5. Developers’ expanded role – Developers should now be given the responsibility of QA and testing – and they should be expected to fix problems as they come across them.
  6. Invest in the latest and greatest – This means people and products. Seek out the top talent for development and invest in the tools and infrastructure that will power a cloud model most effectively.

The move to cloud will certainly not be easy, but it’s worth the time, effort and frustrations that may lie ahead. We’re here to help ease the transition. We’re ready and available to help your team transition to Agile or improve their current Agile implementation, ahead of a cloud-based move. Prepare your organization for the future or risk being left behind!

 

Mike Harris
DCG President

 

Written by Michael D. Harris at 05:00

The Cloud and the Future of Software

Mike Harris 2014 tieI read a short, interesting article by Ann Bednarz in CIO Magazine over the holidays. The article discussed the down-to-earth approach that large organizations are taking to their cloud implementations. Having interviewed the “IT Chiefs” at 16 large enterprises, Bednarz and her team found that, “everybody is doing some form of cloud computing, but nobody is all in.”

Interestingly, most of the reported interviewees seemed to be comfortable with the SaaS form the public cloud, particularly for applications, “that aren’t mission critical, such as HR management.” Respondents seemed less willing to put applications that offer competitive advantage into the public cloud.  Everyone seems to be building private clouds if only for experimentation. 

These industry leaders do not seem too worried about security.  One says, “those issues are mitigated by cloud computing because the vendors stay up to date on the latest technology.”

My reaction to the article was that this is more evidence that we are living through a transformation of the enterprise software landscape.  In the future, instead of being sold as on site, licensed software (often ripe for customization), generic applications like HR management will all be served up as SaaS.  In my opinion this should mean lower costs for the software product providers because they will not have to maintain as many legacy versions of their code.  Naturally, this will mean fewer developers, testers, etc. will be needed. 

The software providers will probably also get less revenue from the “special” customization projects that have traditionally been commissioned as part of (and a condition of) major new sales and eventually find their way into the standard product.  In the software product developers are mindful of this trend, they should be able to recoup lost revenue and maybe even grow through revenue from smaller business than they would typically be able to address in the old license sale model.  From what I have seen so far, some software providers are responding positively to this trend, some are not. 

Another part of the software industry is being impacted by this trend.  Traditionally, software product sales have “pulled through” sales of supporting hardware and software technologies that are sold to the customer – through the software product vendor or directly to the end customer.  The software technologies include operating systems, development environments, databases and so on. 

These changes in the “software ecosystem” are certain to affect the market players and the way that software is developed and maintained.  While customization will never die – just take a look at the software customization  driven by salesforce.com – enterprises that decide applications can be SaaS because they are not mission critical are less likely to have teams of developers maintaining and extending those applications.

Is your organization transforming its software development to meet the changing software ecosystem?  Does it worry you?  Give me a call.

You can find the Bednarz’s article here.

 
Mike Harris
DCG President

Written by Michael D. Harris at 05:00
Categories :

Software Development in the Cloud

MikeThe March/April issue of IEEE Software included an article, “Developing in the Cloud,” that was a great read. One section in particular stood out to me, and it’s worth sharing:

“Running a top-notch software development organization used to be a capital-intensive endeavor, requiring significant technical and organizational resources, all managed through layers of bureaucracy. Not anymore. First, many of the pricey systems and tools that we developers need to work effectively are usually available for free as open source software. More importantly, cheap, cloud-based offerings do away with the setup, maintenance, and user support costs and complexity associated with running these systems.”

Not considering moving your enterprise applications to the cloud? Maybe it’s time. Of course, it’s not as easy or straightforward as that quote makes it out to be. There are a number of challenges to consider before moving your applications, as well as a set of criteria that helps to determine whether an application can successfully make the move. We outline some of these factors in a presentation here, which should help with outlining a strategy for moving your enterprise applications to the cloud.

The cloud can certainly make your life easier; now is the time to start planning for the move!


Mike Harris
DCG President

Written by Michael D. Harris at 05:00
Categories :

App Store-Enabling Enterprise Applications for the BYOD/BYOPC Mobile Workforce

MikeForbes recently reported on Gartner’s Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2014. My take on this is that large organizations have to start App Store-enabling their enterprise applications now in order to accommodate a mobile workforce. App Store-enabling enterprise applications means creating smaller mobile apps that can be operated (and downloaded) independently by employees and customers on their personal devices. In the near future, this will be how employees and customers consume the IT services that they currently access through websites. 

Turning enterprise applications into mobile applications will soon become a serious issue for organizations.  A number of organizations are struggling with personal mobile devices today, and if the evolution of those devices includes personal clouds (which is likely), that struggle will continue.  Hence (with apologies to other older folks like me), BYOPC is not referring to our favorite desktop/laptop, but to the likely emergence of “Bring Your Own Personal Cloud.”

Of course, there is a snag here. Small applications may not be able to carry out all of the needed functions of enterprise applications without access to centrally held data or the ability to store more data than current devices can support. Gartner suggests two trends that are addressing this problem: more data storage on the local device and on more data storage on personal clouds.

So, what does this mean for you and your organization? It means that it’s time to start considering the future and how BYOD and the cloud may affect your mobile workforce. Download our latest white paper, Migrating Enterprise Applications to the Cloud. In it, we discuss the strategic concerns that need to be considered when moving applications into the cloud and outline the characteristics of an application that would make for a good candidate for migration. 

As an aside, DCG also offers an “Applications to Apps” service for updating enterprise applications to mobile applications. This service combines several software analytics techniques to review enterprise applications to determine if they are suitable candidates to be turned into mobile applications. 


Mike Harris
DCG President

Written by Michael D. Harris at 05:00
Categories :

Cloud, Agile Development and Testing?

Mike HarrisYou probably know that Agile development is on the uptick. You probably also know that we offer Agile consulting and have long espoused the benefits of Agile implementation to promote faster delivery times and a better use of IT resources.

However, many organizations struggle to reap the benefits of Agile. Our Agile JumpStart offering is designed to help mediate this struggle, but sometimes it’s not just the team members’ understanding of Agile or cultural issues that inhibit Agile, it’s also the IT architecture that’s in place.

In response, a lot of companies are changing that architecture to incorporate cloud computing resources that enable better Agile implementation. Teams are better able to create, change and scale complex computing environments, and IT can retain full visibility and control.

This is an important consideration for a lot of companies struggling with Agile who are telling themselves that Agile is the issue. Obvious impediments exist that can hinder Agile – and that can be adjusted to solve the issue. So, before you give up on Agile, examine why Agile may not be working and consider your options.

We’re happy to help. If you have any questions or want to discuss your Agile or cloud issues, please leave a comment below!

For more information, the white paper, “Cloud-enabled Software Development and Testing: Putting the Agile into the Infrastructure,” examines how to implement cloud-enabled software development by adopting an Agile IT strategy. You can read it here.


Mike Harris
DCG President

Written by Michael D. Harris at 05:00
Categories :

"It's frustrating that there are so many failed software projects when I know from personal experience that it's possible to do so much better - and we can help." 
- Mike Harris, DCG Owner

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