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Drivers of Agile Development in the Channel

Kim KingBy Kimberly King

When you hear the words “agile and flexible development” what comes to mind? For many, it’s the type of jargon-stuffed phrase that is becoming so overused it risks meaning nothing at all, particularly as we look at the channel community. But trust me, this is one concept you’re going to want to become familiar with, and fast.

The key point is that “agile” allows developers to work on a range of locations — cloud, on-premises or hybrid — and on applications that can run across a range of platforms. Developers need a single platform that will allow them to develop and deploy wherever is the most appropriate for the task at hand.

There are two other major drivers that are pushing the channel to a more agile view of development: 1) the rise of more niche applications that are built for very specific business processes and 2) the way patch cycles have evolved from an annual update to one where testing, developing and patching is consistently carried out.

Historically, an approach as broad-ranging and flexible as this has been difficult to implement. However, new platforms and greater access to a wide range of tools mean it should become the new standard. The companies that can adopt this approach are, ultimately, developing applications that have better functionality, improved user experience and are more likely to become critical components of their customer’s business.

Application development has come a long way in the past 10 years. In that time, a proliferation of techniques has led to almost every company (both in the enterprise and ISVs) developing its own unique approach. Now that there are multiple platforms to develop for, and premises to develop from, the challenge is finding a process that can fit in with the modern application life cycle. Not to mention supporting the move towards niche solutions, which is often the case with the channel.

These days, most applications are not only developed in the cloud, but specifically created for the cloud. Though this allows for quicker iterations and cycles demanded by modern users, it can hinder legacy development as it’s often done on-premises. Since there are still many teams operating this way, we need systems that are sympathetic to a hybrid approach.

The evolution of the modern application’s life cycle has been fascinating. In the beginning there was a brittle process of annual major release updates with the odd patch thrown in for any catastrophic issues that came up. It was slow and users hated it.

Since the life cycle continues to move in the direction of the cloud, it has allowed development, testing and patching to be done simultaneously. This means when the product goes live, it’s in better shape, and when users eventually do find issues, those bugs are much easier to solve.

Moving away from a geriatric life cycle has helped facilitate the mobile explosion and create an uptick in the development of niche applications. Rather than unwieldy apps that try to do too much but end up not doing anything well, users can access lightweight apps that focus on one specific task, or group of tasks, all while demanding little effort from the user.

This approach makes a lot of sense on mobile as well, particularly as user expectation shifts. These trends are going hand in hand with agile development and, as a result, it’s allowing companies to create solutions that can completely change the way businesses operate.

Kimberly King, vice president of global partners and channels at Progress Software, is responsible for the strategic direction, management and success of the Progress partner community. King and her team help current Progress Partners grow their overall revenue, while recruiting new software vendors into the Progress community.


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