Welcome!

Java Authors: Pat Romanski, Victoria Livschitz, Carmen Gonzalez, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan

Related Topics: SOA & WOA, Java, Linux, Web 2.0, Cloud Expo, Big Data Journal

SOA & WOA: Article

Applying Advanced Agile Methodologies

Our big challenge now is no longer the speed of code propagation. It’s how we can manage effective communication among streams

In the five years since I co-founded Bonitasoft with Miguel Valdes Faura and Rodrigue Le Gall, our organization has come a long way.

We started with seven developers. We now have 17 dedicated full time to Bonita BPM - along with a systems architect, a QA team, a documentation team, and a "human factors" engineer. We've logged 2.75 million downloads, booked 875 customers and built a community of 60,000 contributors.

How do you triple the size of your development team in less than five years and keep consistent control over your processes? Well, even for a company that's in the business of helping others improve processes, it's been a challenge, a learning experience - and a great opportunity to apply some interesting "advanced" agile methodologies.

How We Started with Agile
Our initial small team focused on development of the Bonita Execution Engine, the Bonita User Experience (web), and the Bonita Studio, with each of these groups having a specific skill set and a technical leader. From the very start we applied agile development practices - with everyone in the entire team working together in the same two-week sprint, participating in the daily scrum meetings, and so on.

With a small team, we were able to make very efficient progress all working on the same code - we got the first release of Bonita Open Solution out in six months.

But as we grew our development team and as we dealt with the inevitable errors that crept in, we found ourselves being held up. If the build chain broke, everyone's progress was affected.

With the growing team, to avoid these compilation issues, we broke up R&D into three individual teams (still focused on the Engine, the Web, and the Studio components of the Bonita BPM suite) and gave each team an independent release process for each component. This greatly helped us to isolate bug errors, but for fixes, the Studio team was always last in line - they needed a stable build from the Web team, who needed a stable build from the Engine team. It might take as long as two weeks before a bug-discovered-and-fixed on the same day by the Engine team actually propagated to the Studio team.

The Business Pressure to Change Our Development Approach
The growth of our team was only one aspect of the pressures we faced in engineering. As we moved through our Bonita Open Source version 5 product releases and began to prepare for the release of our new product, Bonita BPM version 6, we began to work more and more closely with the Product Committee. Together we started looking at ways to allow R&D to work on multiple features simultaneously, end-to-end, without pulling resources from one team to another. We wanted to reduce the time to fully develop new features of better quality, and to fix bugs. Bonitasoft's use of Value Streams at the strategic level offered a logical possibility: link R&D to corporate strategic goals for innovation and improvement.

The New R&D Organization: Agile Streams
Our development team is now organized into four streams: Innovation, Core Product, Integration, and Fast-Track. Strategically speaking, Innovation development keeps us at the leading edge of BPM suite capability, Core product development keeps us competitive in the current market, Integration remains one of our key differentiators, and Fast-Track helps ensure that users' needs are given appropriate priority.

The product committee's guidance heavily influences the priorities of the first three streams. The Fast-Track development priorities come from Support, Customer Success, Pre-Sales, and Delivery, the customer-facing groups inside Bonitasoft. In this way we continue to improve our product through both radical innovation and incremental improvements (new and improved features).

Each stream is comprised of Engine, Web, and Studio developers, plus a Product Manager and members of the documentation and Quality Assurance teams. Our systems architect and human factors engineer work across all four streams.

When a feature or improvement is developed in a stream, it is fully developed and tested on the stream's dedicated continuous integration server. A feature is "done" when the language translation is done, the documentation is done and the tests are done. When the entire code stream is stable, then and only then it is pushed to the shared continuous integration server where it can be accessed and used by the other streams.

When it is time for a major release, the code is pushed to another dedicated server where the final QA is done.

The advantages of this development approach are already being realized: the isolation of each stream and the involvement of QA inside each one means that the code is only shared when ready - and no other stream is dependent on work outside of it in order to advance.

It's also much cleaner to always have one stream dedicated to maintenance. We use a round robin approach so each stream has a turn, and only one stream is working on maintenance fixes at a time.

There's Always a Challenge
Our big challenge now is no longer the speed of code propagation. It's how we can manage effective communication among streams. Development may be appropriately isolated, but clear and timely communication on big changes is critical. We're addressing this challenge by sharing information frequently through informal presentations, and each team has a team leader whose responsibility includes sharing information across teams. Their entire mornings are pretty much dedicated to coordination tasks while their afternoons are dedicated to development tasks.

Looking Ahead
We are already seeing excellent results from our agile stream approach. Our maintenance releases are coming regularly each month, and the implementation of development roadmap is better balanced among the four strategic Value Streams. Bonita BPM has had two versions released in 2013, with two more on the way for 2014. With the Fast-track stream, we have been able to quickly respond to customers' and users' innovative suggestions and business needs - with a flexibility that underscores and confirms the very concept of agile.

More Stories By Charles Souillard

Charles Souillard co-founded Bonitasoft in 2009 with Miguel Valdes Faura and Rodrigue Le Gall. As VP of Engineering and CTO, Charles leads the Bonitasoft product development organization. He was previously head of the Bonita core development team within Bull Information Systems. He has significant experience developing mission-critical applications with BPM and SOA technologies. He serves on a number of European Community projects. He holds a Master’s degree in Computer Science from Polytech de Grenoble.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
The Internet of Things is tied together with a thin strand that is known as time. Coincidentally, at the core of nearly all data analytics is a timestamp. When working with time series data there are a few core principles that everyone should consider, especially across datasets where time is the common boundary. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Scott, Director of Enterprise Strategy & Architecture at MapR Technologies, discussed single-value, geo-spatial, and log time series data. By focusing on enterprise applications and the data center, he will use OpenTSDB as an example t...
How do APIs and IoT relate? The answer is not as simple as merely adding an API on top of a dumb device, but rather about understanding the architectural patterns for implementing an IoT fabric. There are typically two or three trends: Exposing the device to a management framework Exposing that management framework to a business centric logic Exposing that business layer and data to end users. This last trend is the IoT stack, which involves a new shift in the separation of what stuff happens, where data lives and where the interface lies. For instance, it's a mix of architectural styles ...
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
An entirely new security model is needed for the Internet of Things, or is it? Can we save some old and tested controls for this new and different environment? In his session at @ThingsExpo, New York's at the Javits Center, Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, reviewed hands-on lessons with IoT devices and reveal a new risk balance you might not expect. Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, has more than nineteen years' experience managing global security operations and assessments, including a decade of leading incident response and digital forensics. He is co-author of t...
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, discussed how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money!
The Internet of Things will put IT to its ultimate test by creating infinite new opportunities to digitize products and services, generate and analyze new data to improve customer satisfaction, and discover new ways to gain a competitive advantage across nearly every industry. In order to help corporate business units to capitalize on the rapidly evolving IoT opportunities, IT must stand up to a new set of challenges. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jeff Kaplan, Managing Director of THINKstrategies, will examine why IT must finally fulfill its role in support of its SBUs or face a new round of...
One of the biggest challenges when developing connected devices is identifying user value and delivering it through successful user experiences. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Mike Kuniavsky, Principal Scientist, Innovation Services at PARC, described an IoT-specific approach to user experience design that combines approaches from interaction design, industrial design and service design to create experiences that go beyond simple connected gadgets to create lasting, multi-device experiences grounded in people's real needs and desires.
Enthusiasm for the Internet of Things has reached an all-time high. In 2013 alone, venture capitalists spent more than $1 billion dollars investing in the IoT space. With "smart" appliances and devices, IoT covers wearable smart devices, cloud services to hardware companies. Nest, a Google company, detects temperatures inside homes and automatically adjusts it by tracking its user's habit. These technologies are quickly developing and with it come challenges such as bridging infrastructure gaps, abiding by privacy concerns and making the concept a reality. These challenges can't be addressed w...
The Domain Name Service (DNS) is one of the most important components in networking infrastructure, enabling users and services to access applications by translating URLs (names) into IP addresses (numbers). Because every icon and URL and all embedded content on a website requires a DNS lookup loading complex sites necessitates hundreds of DNS queries. In addition, as more internet-enabled ‘Things' get connected, people will rely on DNS to name and find their fridges, toasters and toilets. According to a recent IDG Research Services Survey this rate of traffic will only grow. What's driving t...
Connected devices and the Internet of Things are getting significant momentum in 2014. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, examined three key elements that together will drive mass adoption of the IoT before the end of 2015. The first element is the recent advent of robust open source protocols (like AllJoyn and WebRTC) that facilitate M2M communication. The second is broad availability of flexible, cost-effective storage designed to handle the massive surge in back-end data in a world where timely analytics is e...
Scott Jenson leads a project called The Physical Web within the Chrome team at Google. Project members are working to take the scalability and openness of the web and use it to talk to the exponentially exploding range of smart devices. Nearly every company today working on the IoT comes up with the same basic solution: use my server and you'll be fine. But if we really believe there will be trillions of these devices, that just can't scale. We need a system that is open a scalable and by using the URL as a basic building block, we open this up and get the same resilience that the web enjoys.
We are reaching the end of the beginning with WebRTC, and real systems using this technology have begun to appear. One challenge that faces every WebRTC deployment (in some form or another) is identity management. For example, if you have an existing service – possibly built on a variety of different PaaS/SaaS offerings – and you want to add real-time communications you are faced with a challenge relating to user management, authentication, authorization, and validation. Service providers will want to use their existing identities, but these will have credentials already that are (hopefully) i...
"Matrix is an ambitious open standard and implementation that's set up to break down the fragmentation problems that exist in IP messaging and VoIP communication," explained John Woolf, Technical Evangelist at Matrix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Cultural, regulatory, environmental, political and economic (CREPE) conditions over the past decade are creating cross-industry solution spaces that require processes and technologies from both the Internet of Things (IoT), and Data Management and Analytics (DMA). These solution spaces are evolving into Sensor Analytics Ecosystems (SAE) that represent significant new opportunities for organizations of all types. Public Utilities throughout the world, providing electricity, natural gas and water, are pursuing SmartGrid initiatives that represent one of the more mature examples of SAE. We have s...
P2P RTC will impact the landscape of communications, shifting from traditional telephony style communications models to OTT (Over-The-Top) cloud assisted & PaaS (Platform as a Service) communication services. The P2P shift will impact many areas of our lives, from mobile communication, human interactive web services, RTC and telephony infrastructure, user federation, security and privacy implications, business costs, and scalability. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robin Raymond, Chief Architect at Hookflash, will walk through the shifting landscape of traditional telephone and voice services ...
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Chief Architect for the Internet of Things and Intelligent Systems at Red Hat, described how to revolutioniz...
Bit6 today issued a challenge to the technology community implementing Web Real Time Communication (WebRTC). To leap beyond WebRTC’s significant limitations and fully leverage its underlying value to accelerate innovation, application developers need to consider the entire communications ecosystem.
The definition of IoT is not new, in fact it’s been around for over a decade. What has changed is the public's awareness that the technology we use on a daily basis has caught up on the vision of an always on, always connected world. If you look into the details of what comprises the IoT, you’ll see that it includes everything from cloud computing, Big Data analytics, “Things,” Web communication, applications, network, storage, etc. It is essentially including everything connected online from hardware to software, or as we like to say, it’s an Internet of many different things. The difference ...
Cloud Expo 2014 TV commercials will feature @ThingsExpo, which was launched in June, 2014 at New York City's Javits Center as the largest 'Internet of Things' event in the world.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Windstream, a leading provider of advanced network and cloud communications, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Windstream (Nasdaq: WIN), a FORTUNE 500 and S&P 500 company, is a leading provider of advanced network communications, including cloud computing and managed services, to businesses nationwide. The company also offers broadband, phone and digital TV services to consumers primarily in rural areas.