Today was an incredible day at IBM Innovate. One of the things that tends to get lost in the shuffle at these big conferences is that while the technology is cool, the new products are exciting, practices can be learned, and business partners can be seen, it is really the practitioner who makes this all possible. The day started off, like all conferences, with a keynote by key execs and customers talking about the successes they had using various products, but the excitement really came about when Dan Berg (IBM's senior technical staff member focused on DevOps) and other technical leaders got on stage and showed off building a continuous delivery pipeline for a project, while allowing the manager (in this case IBM Rational Vice President of Development - Harish Grama) to still see what is going on. The part that was the most exciting to me was the fact that on the screen I saw a work item which said "Deploy Mobile App".
Distinguished engineer Leigh Williamson, IBM Rational Chief Architect John Wiegand, and IBM Fellow Kevin Stoodley kicked off the second session I went to to actually demonstrate how a development team could actually develop and deploy this complex environment bridging from IBM's Mobile Foundation solution with Worklight, connecting to a COBOL application on the mainframe. This is the complex environment that many developers are finding themselves in the enterprise, as more and more CIOs see mobile as a key capability and challenge. (To be more precise, IBM's recent CIO study showed that 74% see mobile as part of their innovation solution while Dr. Kristof Klockner (General Manager of IBM Rational called out that DevOps is more and more important at driving end to end innovation)).
In the enterprise the intersection between mobile and the continuous delivery capabilities of DevOps is critical. This is not just about building a custom mobile Application for iOS, it is about integrating mobile and back end systems, while keeping the entire infrastructure in sync. Users in a mobile environment have become used to responsive applications that are being updated in a much quicker cycle time that your traditional enterprise application. As such the ability to quickly build, test, and provision new capabilities in support of your mobile app, including the appropriate services to back end systems, and support for multiple mobile platforms, really starts aligning the value of DevOps to the value and expectations of mobile.
From a developer's stand point, I am very excited to see how we are bringing together mobile and DevOps, and during a Birds of a Feather session on mobile today, many customers agreed that seeing how a Developer can do their work in a continuous integration environment with their local work, and then allow for a continuous delivery of the appropriate build to a test environment. This workflow not only allows the test team to always have a current build (mobile apps, servers, and appropriate back end services), but by leveraging automated testing (including stub testing with Greenhat), developers and testers can focus on the job of creating new applications, features, services, and testing those capabilities that cannot be automated. By building an automated, scripted, tested, versioned and measured pipeline, we also build up trust between Development and Operations because we create a repeatable process that keeps the business running.
In mobile we want to focus on those things that provide delight and surprise in the users and customers for the mobile apps. The best way you can do this, is by automating those things that delay delivery of capabilities and focus on those things that are unique. Another key thing that was discussed during the birds of a feather session, was how the IBM Mobile Foundation allows your to not only create skins on your apps which ensure the look and feel is appropriate for the experience on the device, you can also do native development for specific platforms as you are deploying hybrid applications. More thoughts on this tomorrow, when I have time to see this in action on the show floor. If you are here and see me on the floor walk up to me and let's talk.