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Wayne Ariola on the Future of the Software Development Life Cycle

Noel Wurst: Hello, this is Noel Wurst with Skytap, and I am speaking today with Wayne Ariola, who is the chief strategy officer at Parasoft. Wayne, how are you doing today?

Wayne Ariola: Fantastic, thank you.

Noel Wurst: So, I wanted to speak with Wayne because Wayne is helping organize the SDLC Acceleration Summit that’s being held on May 13, 2014 in San Francisco, but I also wanted to learn a little bit more about Parasoft as well, and maybe the similarities or differences between what they do and what Skytap does, and then to learn more about the Summit and why we’re all so excited about it.  

We’ll get to the Summit a little bit later on, but at first, I wanted to learn a little bit more about Parasoft. I know, just from what I have heard, and from what other people have told me, and my own research, that you guys specialize in a number of things, from static analysis to unit testing and service virtualization. I just wanted to see if there was anything I was missing, and then, how do all of these offerings together help companies throughout the SDLC?

Wayne Ariola: Thank you for asking. So, Parasoft is a 27-year-old organization, we have been around for a while, and we always come at the equation around software quality. So, we are basically trying to solve the software quality issue. And, what is the real issue? The real issue is speed and reliability. How can you get your organization to the confidence level that you are really minimizing the business risks associated with the release.

I know Skytap definitely offers a significant dev/test environment access solution, which is just wonderful, and very complimentary to one of the offerings that Parasoft has, which is service virtualization.

But when we look at the breadth of what Parasoft has done over the past 27 years, we attack the software quality problem really in two phases. The first one is defect prevention, and this is represented in a product we have called the “Parasoft Development Testing Platform.” This development/testing platform essentially allows you to achieve business goals, and apply really solid software development testing practices early in the process. So it controls things through policy, and then it allows, via exception, for developers to know whether you are cheating compliance or the expected behavior throughout the lifecycle. So that’s one end of it.

The other end of it is really what we do more on the functional testing side, and which is represented by our gold-standard for our API testing solution, called SOAtest. And that’s complemented by our service virtualization product, which really allows organizations to shift left of the quality equation—meaning that, we give you access to an environment fast, and wherever and whenever you want.

Now the difference between Skytap and Parasoft here is, first of all, it’s very complementary technology. But the difference between them is that, Skytap spins an image in the cloud, based on technology you have access to, whereas service virtualization simulates artifacts, components, or endpoints, associated with that testing environment, that you might not have access to. So we actually simulate transactions, in conjunction with the Skytap-type environment, which is available in the cloud.

Noel Wurst: That’s great. I saw an interview you did recently with Arthur Hicken, the “Code Curmudgeon,” where I learned Parasoft’s mantra for 2014, and what I assume will exist long past 2014, which is “continuous testing.” That reminded me of the “test early and test often” mantra, which I have always been a big fan of. And you mentioned that the way to approach continuous testing is with a holistic approach. I was curious as to what that means, and why is that recommended?

Wayne Ariola: First of all, everyone is talking about continuous release, continuous testing, continuous everything. Continuous is like the word of the decade.

Noel Wurst: It is, it is.

Wayne Ariola: What happens today, traditionally, is that there are siloed sets of activities that are going on across the software development life cycle. And these siloed sets of activities are essentially not necessarily providing you, and here comes the holistic word, with a holistic view of what is going on with that project. So, what can you truly do to mitigate risk, and then give visibility across projects and across teams around the activities you are doing, and the results of those activities. So, you have a great idea of really what are you facing when you hit that release button and send that application out to the market.

So, one of the things that I always talk about at conferences these days is that the switching costs associated with applications are at an all-time low. Meaning that, today, due to lower integration costs, and due to the fact that things are pretty ubiquitously accessible, the application that you are using today, which might not serve your purpose, or it does not quite meet your needs, can be replaced really quickly with a SaaS-based application to do the job that you expect it to do.

What this really means is that, the tradeoff now is if software quality is not where it needs to be, people are going to squawk, and switch you out and you will lose. So, quality, unfortunately, has never been a true differentiator in the software development phase, or the software space, because speed has always been our major issue. Now, we are getting into this competitive state where quality and differentiation via quality matters. And this is where people are going to begin to notice that a total approach, or a more holistic approach in the software performance process, is essential for actually delivering really user-friendly functionality.

Noel Wurst: It reminds me, I know at Skytap the conversation that we have been having a lot lately is that there is a lot of focus on agile methodologies and focusing specifically on retrospectives, standup meetings, shorter release cycles, and the agile culture. But we started realizing that, while all of those things are needed at the same time, you also need an agile infrastructure, not just agile culture, or an agile way of thinking.

I’m talking about dev/test environments that are available on demand, the ability to spin these up quickly and tear them down. I was curious if that’s something that you have also noticed that maybe, there definitely needs to be just as much attention on making your infrastructure as agile as your people.

Wayne Ariola: Yes, you’re absolutely right. Agile, whether you are talking big “A” or little “a”, or the concept of just being more “agile,” is a great topic. And when most people talk about it, they come at it from truly the dev space, and then, there’s a lot of things being written now in terms of the agile infrastructure, the agile organization, the agile everything. That’s the second word of the decade, behind “continuous.”

So, the key there, though, is that it just can’t be one. So, you are looking for that agility. And by the way, Noel, I know that you have experienced this just as much as anybody in the industry, which is that, our industry evolves from a focal point out, and that focal point is usually one of the core team. It is usually in operations, right? That sets the demand. And hopefully, it’s the business before that that sets the demand, and then you get this reactive wave that echoes through the rest of the organization in order to better achieve, hopefully, what is initiated as the business goal. And we are seeing this with the agile movement.

So the agile movement was the response to the slow software delivery that was not moving the business demand. And then, that wave basically started to echo because the infrastructure needed to truly enable agile was there. So then you had this echo of DevOps. Right now, DevOps seems to be getting more automated and speeding up, and more “agile.” And now, what we are seeing is this echo around “Can I get an environment for dev and test available anytime, anywhere? So the agility associated with infrastructure access is now one of the focal points, and obviously Skytap is perfectly positioned for that process.

Noel Wurst: Well, let’s talk a little bit about the Summit. Again, just to remind everybody, it is May 13, 2014, at the South San Francisco Convention Center. I am so excited to be a part of this. It’s a single day, and there is a lot packed into that day. I’d love to get your input as to who all can we expect to see there, maybe what is your involvement going to be, and is there anything there that you are most excited about?

Wayne Ariola: Absolutely, so first of all, what we want to do is bring together a group of folks who are interested in talking about the future of software, and the future of the software development life cycle. So, participating in that, we have some key analysts who will be giving keynotes. Peter Coffee is going to be moderating a session, and I will be moderating a session as well.  

But the key here is that, we really wanted to reach out and have a discussion as a community about what’s the future of the software development lifecycle, and how it impacts people in their jobs and in the processes around us, and get it out on video, and get it out in the air to discuss. So we will be recording it, number one.

But I think that the coolest thing we are going to be doing during the conference is that we are going to be doing a real-time survey, during the panel discussions. So essentially, while the panel discussion is being talked up, the question that is being bantered around will be up on the screen, and the participants in the conference will get to share their opinions, via their smartphones.

Noel Wurst: That’s cool!

Wayne Ariola: They can basically submit their vote on a particular topic. So, for example, one of the topics is, “When will source code reside in the cloud?” and you can vote on timelines, and as the panel discusses it, they will get to see the real-time feedback of the audience, and alter their discussion predicated on where the audience is at. And I think that’s the most exciting thing about the conference.

Noel Wurst: That will be really neat. I didn’t realize that was going on, and that will be cool, to kind of see those opinions come in real-time like that. Well, you mentioned the future of the SDLC, and that’s something I definitely noticed in the description of the Summit. There’s a quote there from the SDLC Summit website that says, “People are taking great strides to reinvent the SDLC.” Obviously, this is a long conversation, but I was curious to learn some of the ways that it will be so different in the future, maybe even just five, ten years down the road? And, at the same time, why it needs a complete reinventing, and not just a slight tweak here and there, but perhaps a complete reinvention is necessary?

Wayne Ariola: So, the one thing that I have been talking about recently is, I believe that we as an industry are still working really highly siloed. Relying on the heroic efforts of really smart people, and those are developers, and testers, and architects, who are really putting in a significant amount of time on a very, very highly complex process, and it’s the pure magic boxes that are not exposed. So, what we are trying to do here is, we are trying to expose how do we better take this concept of a supply chain, where you might have contributors, or endpoints, or applications, or integrations with third parties, or partners, that are really much more malleable than they were in the past, and get into this more fluid supply chain, where your business process is constantly being optimized, and constantly being iterated, without any impact upon the user. We’re not there today. We still have massive disconnect between teams, and primarily a massive disconnect by the way the business expectations and the actual people delivering the software. And that’s the gap we need to close.

Noel Wurst: That kind of gets back to the agile infrastructure versus agile individuals again. I think these teams are not really separated because they are choosing to be; I think a lot of times, if you don’t have that infrastructure that supports, you know, really easy and fast collaboration and sharing it makes that difficult. And it’s almost like the siloing kind of comes as just a side effect of the way the infrastructure is set up sometimes.

Wayne Ariola: I agree. I agree, and the infrastructure is definitely a major component, but I also think, culturally, the way that we have celebrated the technical contributions of the smart people, is fantastic. We just need to get them better integrated into the business decision.

Noel Wurst: That’s true. Well, great. That is all I have for you today. Everyone who wants to learn more about the Summit, or to register for it today, the web site is SDLCSummit.com. We will of course have links to it here on the interview as well.  

This was Wayne Ariola, who is the chief strategy officer at Parasoft. Wayne, thank you so much for speaking with me today.  

Wayne Ariola: Thank you very much.  

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Author: Noel Wurst is the managing content editor at Skytap. Skytap provides SaaS-based dev/test environments to the enterprise. Skytap solution removes the inefficiencies and constraints that companies have within their software development lifecycle. As a result, customers release better software faster. In this blog, we publish engaging, thought provoking stories that revolve around agile enterprise applications and cloud-based development and testing.

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