Calm after the storm
When we began thinking about the content of this year’s Serena xChange user conference we decided to focus our attention on the issues related to Mobile, Social and Cloud. I’m glad we did. As I spoke to customers around the conference these themes kept resonating.
As with last year’s xChange we tried to make this year’s even greener. So once again no bottles of water but lots of water coolers and cool reusable Serena drinking cups. No printed session handouts but all available online before the conference. No conference brochure except the online version for a mobile device. No survey sheets to complete unless they were completed online. So we did our bit for the environment. But we were only able to do that because we gambled on the attendees turning up with a smart device, and they did, often with two or more.
Clearly the world has gone mobile. We saw it in the audience, we heard it from the guest speakers and we experienced it at the demo stations. Mobile is our preferred way. I am writing this on my iPad from a restaurant in Annapolis where I have just come back from a very enjoyable customer event out on the Chesapeake where all my presentations were from this same iPad.
Whether it is the applications you develop or manage, or the way you do your job, mobile is an integral part of it. It is therefore critical that your business partners step up and deliver their solutions to you mobile-ready. I am proud to say Serena is leading that charge as so many saw on the main stage in Las Vegas last week.
Of course we called it xChange because is about networking with one’s peers and the Serena and “exchanging” ideas and insights. It was interesting that when we looked at the submissions for main stage presentations we selected Matt Stratton from Apartments.com because he was talking about the essential importance of innovation in his business which connects renters and landlords. There was not a single customer at xChange that was not, in some way, enabling their business systems to embrace social capabilities whether that was allowing customers to participate more fully in the business or enabling employees to collaborate beyond the simple business of getting the job done.
We heard it in the breakout sessions and we heard it from the main stage. Every business is trying to enable mechanisms that connect people. Often those connections are unstructured and the real value of the capability cannot be determined. But the very fact that the business can now capture thoughts and promises, and track the thread of an idea’s evolution, mean that valuable data, that was once buried in a labyrinth of email, is now accessible, reportable and actionable.
This is especially true in IT’s own systems. Software development, delivery and management is a collaborative activity. Not surprisingly therefore, Serena is once again taking the initiative and driving true collaboration capabilities into the depth and breadth of our solutions. By making in possible, for example, so that both development and operations to share the same release calendar, Serena is addressing that traditionally most intractable of issues: the tension between Dev and Ops around the release management process. By shifting the focus of the technology to collaboration the outcome becomes an informed and collectively owned decision and a common process that all participants follow.
It strikes me as odd that we think cloud is a somewhat recent idea. ADP have been outsourcing company payroll since 1949 and today pay half of all America’s employees on the 15th and 30th of every month. Health benefits, pensions, travel have all been handed over to third parties for decades. What has changed is that we now see the cloud as a place to host our own applications, a place to find helpful technologies (in a new build-versus-rent era) and a place to be our infrastructure platform.
One of the most widely attended sessions, in one of the busiest tracks at xChange, was the release automation session. After we previewed the cloud deployment capabilities on the main stage the attendees were eager to learn more. And, once again, we learned just how much the Cloud was part of the daily fabric of release activities now for many companies. But the diversity of methods, technologies, controls and reporting was immense. Real standards have yet to emerge in this space and so customers have found themselves having to hand craft deployment scripts for each product they develop and for each environment they deploy to. One customer from Argentina was describing to me how they were using an Amazon store front within their own web site and how tracking the changes and coordinating them was a nightmare.
With the landscape extending every minute, and often without the prior involvement of IT, our deployments need to be ever more sophisticated and even more coordinated. The innovation that is coming from Serena R&D is being inspired by so many customer stories. Our recent advances mean that incremental deliveries are now possible making payload and deployment times much reduced. With continuous deployment a way of life Serena has again embraced the challenge of a new paradigm and, with real user expertise, conquered that too.