CA Technologies is aggressively evangelising on Application Economy powered by DevOps. As DevOps adoption accelerates globally and here in India, the company is forging strategic collaborations. In an exclusive conversation with DATAQUEST, Ashok Vasan, vice president, application delivery, Asia Pacific & Japan, CA Technologies and P.Venkatesh, Director, Product Division, Maveric Systems walk through the DevOps disruption, adoption dynamics and the collaboration between the two companies. Excerpts.
Can you give a sense about DevOps adoption dynamics?
Ashok Vasan: We are seeing a steady momentum. Statistically speaking more and more CIOs are driving digital initiatives. India per se the awareness on DevOps is growing by the day. As I look at the adoption dynamics, we are seeing good uptake from verticals like BFSI, Government, Telecom among others.
The adoption is being fuelled by a combination of factors and the primary driver being clients demanding faster go to market timelines - that's typical of the application economy we live in. Its a planet of apps.
What do you think is the tipping point to DevOps adoption?
Ashok Vasan: The business demands and need for higher operational efficiencies are acting as the tipping point. If i can cite an example, the Government's digital initiatives and its intent to offer more G2G and citizen services clearly demand more collaboration in terms of development and newer tools for delivering better services through an agile IT infrastructure. The government is also talking about financial inclusion in a big way and recently RBI gave payment bank licenses to 11 entities. Developments like these augurs good for DevOps as to deliver the huge demands to end users IT Organizations across verticals need to relook at their development methodologies and orient it towards the emerging application economy.
Do you mean to say that the old school conventional development practices are no longer enough for the new IT challenges and in that scheme of things do you think DevOps will usher in the much needed panacea?
Ashok Vasan: The overall architectural landscape is changing. For instance, the tool stack is changing, the mindset and the rate at which applications are developed, tested and then released are changing, In this backdrop, the time is now to embed DevOps into the whole software development lifecycle - this become critical. So whether we want to call it a panacea or not it is definitely going to change the way we operate. With DevOps the software development lifecycle will transition to a continuous delivery model and in that agile development practices will play a pivotal role.
In this new regime, testing has to be solid and in fact its the bedrock that will usher in quality. That is why we are getting into this relationship with Maveric. People underestimate the importance of testing and they undersize, under-budget. This is not the right way. Testing is a continuous process and we are seeing a mindset orientation aimed at changing the software development practices for good.
So how are you bridging this chasm between Dev and Ops?
Venkatesh (PV): The need to be Agile is bridging the divide. Since IT organizations are looking at releasing applications at a faster rate they are bringing in the entire scheme of things in a single window. The testing silos are being eliminated. Here the emphasis is on relevant tools, methodologies and best development practices. So we are bringing out frameworks, which would enable people to achieve harmony in the development life cycle. Through that framework we are also bringing in different skill sets into a common platform.
So this common ground you talked about is there any bottleneck? Do you have any best practices that make your journey easier?
PV: Now that the silos are getting eliminated there has to be a backward and forward integration at every point. Otherwise the seamless integration does not take place. The framework is all about how the communication between the various teams is complete in a shorter window, how they can do it in a shorter time more effectively and therefore you actually enhance the quality of the code. And different tools come into play here that ensure code quality, reuse, et al.
Ashok Vasan: To add to that, one such key concept which cuts across all this is service virtualization. When you are developing software and releasing it, you are constrained by various things. So one of the things, the constraints that we are trying to break with service virtualization is that we want to shift the whole aspect of testing left; it’s called “shift left”. Now when you “shift left” you are capturing a lot of bugs early on in the life cycle and you are preventing it from slipping down later. You don’t want to catch a bug just before release. You want to catch it at a point the developer is actually writing code. Now if you remove some of the constraints that exist at that stage through service virtualization then a lot of the testing can be done more comprehensively much earlier on in the software process.
Can you talk more about Maveric’s testing play and your engagement with CA?
PV: We have a practice called the nonfunctional assurance. Currently if you look at the nonfunctional assurance practice it has application automation, performance engineering and performance testing. . One of the areas we see huge traction going forward is is service virtualization. When you look at the financial service industry, they are spending money on technology areas like - virtualization, middleware and ATMs. In tandem to this trend, we are bringing in service components attached to each one of them and we have tied up with CA that will greatly improve our ability to serve these customers more effectively.
Ashok Vasan: We want to work very closely together and offer more value to our mutual customers where it makes a lot of sense. Its leveraging upon mutual inherent strengths we have. We will jointly work together on tools and services and approach new markets, new customers with a combined solution and service offering that will be of more value.
So faulty software basically casts a shadow on the developers. Is there any conflict between coders and testers? Testing was once relegated a kind of a backbench treatment?
PV: No longer. Take our own journey. We started at the late stage of testing and then we figured out that people wanted us to come early and bring the same expertise into their requirement itself. So we had that requirement assurance as a practice and through the development life cycle we do - that’s called the program assurance, then the application assurance where we actually do the testing. This also applies to the waterfall method which continues to be there even today but adoption to Agile is on a faster pick up mode and waterfall is on the twilight zone.
Ashok Vasan: I would rather put it this way- its DevTestOps. And traditionally there were the walls between Dev and Ops and now its between Test and Ops but differences are fast blurring as all come on the same page to ensure software quality and integrity. And now this whole “shift left” process means you are now testing much earlier so conflict is weeded out at an early stage.Agile is a different way of thinking, in that thinking developers and testers are in close collaboration and that probably is the new normal that will be the norm going forward.