Forrester's David West on Lean applications, Agile and SOA

SearchSOA.com's Jack Vaughan sat down with Forrester Analyst David West at Forrester's Application Development & Delivery Forum to see what aspects of the burgeoning Agile movement were playing out in the world of services creation and integration.

SearchSOA.com's Jack Vaughan sat down with Forrester Analyst David West at Forrester's Application Development & Delivery Forum to see what aspects of the burgeoning Agile movement were playing out in the world of services creation and integration.

SearchSOA.com: We see lean processes discussed with SOA sometimes. I’m interested in Lean integration in particular because sometimes the SOA iterations are too long. What are you seeing?

David West, analyst, Forrester: What we’re seeing increasingly is that organizations are using agile to build out services. You have to build out these services.  The reason why Agile is so relevant to that is because it’s predominantly focused on trying to explore things that you don’t understand.  Often the service interface is not necessarily understandable until you’ve had a go at it, until you’ve tried to connect two bits together. What is interesting is what people and organizations do to glue those services together.

Think 'multiple teams building multiple services in multiple places.' You end up with a collection of these services all over the place. You’re consistently managing the flow between consumers and producers, to allow these teams to work more effectively - obviously using backlogs in each of the teams to manage the integration points.

It’s a really interesting way of managing this continuous delivery approach where the grand design really doesn’t make any sense, because you don’t know what you want until you’ve started doing some stuff. But as soon as you start doing some stuff, it’s important to optimize the flow of these teams building them.

SearchSOA.com: Everyone is 'for Agile', but doesn't some Waterfall development sneak in there still? You've even coined a term - 'Water-Scrum-fall' – to describe it.

West: Water-Scrum-fall was something that we observed at Forrester, when talking to organizations that were doing Agile. Everybody says they’re doing Agile today. We found about 38% of organizations were doing Agile, in some way, shape or form.

But when you went into details - really were they doing Agile? What we found in the majority of organizations was that they wanted to do Agile, but they still wanted to do requirements, planning and design up front. They wanted to do Agile, but they were a little concerned about releasing software at the end.

Frankly, we recommend to most organizations they need to accept that they’ll probably be doing Water-Scrum-fall, and push back the boundaries between Water-Scrum-fall. That’s the objective, really. To really optimize those processes, expand as much Scrum as you possibly can whilst accepting that you still have to do some things up front, and some things at the end.

SearchSOA.com: One thing you’ve been discussing at the event is how you can become a high performance organization. What are we looking at here?

West: Building high performance organizations isn’t just about optimizing how you’re structured. It’s a combination of both process, combined with technology--let’s call it architecture - and the structure. What we’re finding increasingly in most high performance companies is that they optimize all three of those holistically.

Organizations that spend an inordinate amount of time adopting agile processes, without considering structure or architecture, will never get the benefits out of Agile that they were promised. And the same is true of certain architectures. You have to think about how you’re going to support that from a structural point of view, or how you’re going to actually work on it from a process point of view. You need to think holistically about those three things--process, structure and architecture--to build a high performance organization.

This was first published in November 2011

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