Application Services provides a platform for IT Development and Maintenance professionals to discuss and gain insights into best practices, process innovations and emerging technologies that will shape the future of this profession.

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July 17, 2013

Can ALM platforms provide business agility?

Business scenarios are undergoing paradigm shifts with more than 65% of the IT budgets today being spent on maintaining the existing applications!!! 

As a result Application Maintenance has become one of the top priorities for any CIO today. Application Maintenance actually streamlines the existing IT systems to align with the business requirements and deliver business-value All-in-all, business agility is tightly coupled with Application Maintenance and the capabilities of the team performing these activities.

Client organizations and IT vendors are constantly in search of processes, practices, platforms and tools to enhance their maintenance team's capabilities to deliver faster, cheaper and better. Every organization follows some process framework and implements a large number of tools and accelerators. However the output is nowhere near to the optimal level.  In my opinion, the key to their success would be to have a single Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) platform that integrates these processes, tools and accelerators to provide a single workbench for the application maintenance teams.

Most of the ALM platforms available in the market today, however, are designed as per product requirements. These ALM platforms may not meet the complex requirements of a maintenance project. In a typical maintenance project scenario, there are many applications to be maintained, the technology stack is diverse, the process frameworks are varied and the teams are distributed. All these factors contribute to the ALM platforms falling short of expectations in Application Maintenance projects.

So, is there any ALM platform which can be used with ease in an application maintenance project? What would be its typical characteristics? How would it be different? 

The answer lies in building a platform with three main characteristics viz-a-viz flexibility (an ability to mold itself to adapt to any project scenario), efficiency driven (possibility of increasing the throughput without additional load on the team) and control driven (maintaining compliance through increased usability, automation and implicit control mechanisms).

Flexibility - The ALM platform should be flexibility driven to adapt to any project scenario. For e.g. the platform should be flexible enough to adapt to any type of delivery model be it waterfall, agile or iterative. Similarly, it should be flexible to adapt to the way tasks, reviews and defects are handled.

Efficiency driven - The ALM platform should be driven by efficiency with an objective to increase the throughput. For e.g. In any project, diligent knowledge capturing is a task. Generally, the knowledge which is shared is done only in terms of conversations and verbal communications. Wouldn't it improve the team's efficiency if the knowledge can be captured somewhere and be made available for reuse?

Control driven - Application maintenance teams are always under pressure to deliver. This means that there is never enough time for the core deliverables let alone cater to the enabling tasks such as reviews, status updates, tracking, monitoring etc. The greater challenge for any ALM platform is to provide better control over the process compliance and quality with less effort spent by the team. It would be of great help to have a platform which can help in maintaining control and aide in compliance.

At the end, it is all about having an integrated yet flexible, efficiency and control driven ALM platform. This will sky-rocket the application maintenance team's productivity and subsequently the quality of delivery. Could you ask for any more business agility?

Modernization - Time to shed the legacy

All applications and systems have a life-cycle that goes from build to retire. Somewhere in between lies the stage of renewing the capabilities of the system. Labeled variously as Modernization/Renewal/Enhancement, this is the most important phase from the perspective of extending the life of the application and enhancing the long term value harvested from it.

Through the 80's & 90's, almost all large enterprises had invested heavily on mainframe systems building huge applications that could crunch through large amounts of data through overnight batches. The emphasis was on accumulating business events through the day and then processing them overnight to complete the process.With the dawn of the internet age, these were considered to be slow behemoths that needed to be made nimble and real time.This spawned a whole new trend of Legacy Modernization.IT service vendors rushed to create LM Centers of Excellence to service the demand for re-engineering these systems and created a menu card of offerings ranging from SOA enablement to outright migration off of the old platform.

These solutions enabled the enterprise to connect their legacy systems to the spanking new web systems that they built from the ground up.   They helped the systems be more efficient and run with lower MIPS (read as $$).The re-hosting solutions enable the mainframe code to run on open hardware allowing some enterprises to completely eliminate mainframes from their systems.While these allowed the foundation to be cleaned up, they do not really address the needs of businesses today.

Today's businesses want to connect with the new age digital consumers, who in turn demand a compelling user experience across multiple devices.Business' want insights into their consumers' needs even before they do. The catch here is, they want to do this at a lower IT budget. The challenge before IT is how to do all this by leveraging their multi-billion dollar past investment in the existing systems.This is where we need to expand the way we look at modernization.The blinkers that limit our view on modernization to just the services that impact the mainframe environment need to be removed.The definition of modernization should include capabilities that bring the systems to the new consumer centric world. These would no doubt be based on a foundation that is built on 'legacy' systems that have been modernized by legacy modernization.But the processes of bringing capabilities like mobility, cloud, analytics etc. needs to be looked at from the lens of modernization.      

Doing so will have a number of benefits:
  • It will force IT to think of leveraging existing assets to deliver the new age capabilities
  • It will train the spotlight on the fact that it's not only the mainframe systems that need to be modernized
  • Allow budget planners to allocate the right funds in an incremental fashion instead of a large investment to create brand new systems
The Infosys Tomorrow's Application Viewpoint provides a comprehensive view into this interesting new area.

July 11, 2013

Automobiles, industrialization and software

Posted by Suman Sasmal - Vice President and Service Delivery Head, CORPBITS, Infosys

Cars Car Tech 101  What exactly is a connected car [Source: Techesty]

Today's consumers are demanding an individualized experience with everything they do; Even when they're behind the wheel of a car.This demand for personalized experiences is driving a lot of innovation. And the automobile industry, which recently went through some very tough times in the U.S, is beginning to capitalize on these new all-about-me trends.

To know more, click here