The role and nature of software has changed tremendously in recent years. It has, in almost every way, surpassed hardware in importance. Today's leaders are those that can produce new, innovative, highly functioning applications and programs, not chips and processors.
There are numerous factors pushing forward the continuing development and advancement of the software field. According to InformationWeek editor-at-large Charles Babcock, there are three particular powerful driving forces: Agile, DevOps and cloud computing. He described these technologies as "an almost-holy triumvirate with a common theme: Software rules." Firms that effectively leverage all three of these components in their software development efforts will be poised to maximize the quality and efficiency of their output.
Babcock argued that Agile development is essentially a belief system centered around the idea that software should 1) reflect the business's needs, 2) be delivered quickly and 3) be tested and ready to go upon delivery.
"In short, the software must better reflect the challenges and realities with which the business is dealing," Babcock wrote. "The agile oath is: We'll do this better than the waterfall method did."
DevOps shares a number of similarities, according to Babcock. He quoted Rackspace CTO John Engates, who explained that DevOps is dedicated to the notions that code should be shipped faster and without errors, and that "[automated testing at scale makes for a better, more secure product." And, ultimately, DevOps is seen as a means of producing software that accurately reflects the realities of the business.
The role of the cloud
According to Babcock, the cloud enters the picture as the new standard place for software to run. Cloud computing has effectively replaced the datacenter in this capacity, thanks to the former's significantly greater ability to scale up or down as needed.
"To many in this New Age of Software, it's an article of faith that software that reflects big ambitions must have a big platform on which to run," Babcock argued. "It may not need it all the time, but when its moment of truth arrives, the platform needs to be as big as the opportunity."
Cloud computing is widely seen as the ideal means of meeting this need, particularly when combined with Agile and DevOps.
The tools to thrive
As Babcock explained, Agile and DevOps are essentially philosophies, rather than specific tools. Firms that embrace these development concepts will be better poised to see software success, but they need to pair these strategies with the appropriate resources. Without high-quality tools in place, firms may find that they simply do not have the means of achieving DevOps and Agile's overarching goals.
Solutions such as static code analysis tools can prove critical in this sense. With these tools, finding critical defects and security vulnerabilities can be automated, resulting in shorter release times and fewer issues in the field. Such functionality speaks directly to the notions guiding DevOps, and can encourage more efficient, effective software product creation.