Welcome!

SDN Journal Authors: Elizabeth White, Yeshim Deniz, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, TJ Randall

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, SDN Journal, @ThingsExpo

@CloudExpo: Blog Post

SDLC Tool Integration Requires Domain Understanding | @CloudExpo #Cloud

These impedance mismatch examples require an understanding of the underlying business problem specific to software delivery

Consider the following integration scenarios: Moving medical records between EMR systems; financial information between banking systems; HR information between ERP systems; and software development information between SDLC tools.

At first glance the approaches required for these integrations may seem the same. But if you look slightly deeper you will realize that this can't be the case because of impedance mismatch. I'm defining impedance mismatch as the friction that occurs when trying to align two things or concepts that don't naturally/actually match. Because many of the hardest impedance mismatches are domain specific, to overcome them you have to have a layer of domain understanding "baked into" your integration software to address business problems.

That's what too often has been missing, because historically integration has primarily been perceived as being accomplished by overcoming a series of low-level, generic technical problems.

This misconception about addressing integration becomes evident as soon as someone comes into your office to sell you integration software. Invariably, the conversation quickly turns to questions such as: What is your message queue policy? How do you handle conflict management? What value transformations are available?

Those are secondary questions. Of course every application that you use should have those qualities. Shouldn't any integration application have a robust message queue implementation?

If you think of integration as nothing more than a series of low-level technical problems then you're going to default to those questions. No business person knows or cares about message queues, conflict management or value transformations. They care about getting the information they need when they want it. And that requires domain awareness.

Domain Expertise
Begin to move away from that misguided thinking about integration. There are virtually no troublesome technical hurdles anymore. Integration is a business problem that requires higher level technology solutions that are domain specific. And for different categories of business problems you need very different technical solutions. As a result, the next wave of integration will be all about domain expertise and nuance.

This brings us back to impedance mismatch. When you have something that has "friction" because there are fundamental differences between the two sides, what do you do?

Consider this example: If you are integrating requirements between IBM Doors Next Generation (DNG) and Atlassian JIRA, you need to know that JIRA only allows two levels of hierarchy (three if you include sub-task, but sub-task is used differently in JIRA to other artifact types). However DNG has an infinite number of them.

This business problem can only be solved by having the domain experts (the business analysts and the developers) decide how they will structure DNG such that the right layer in the tree translates to the epic/story in JIRA. JIRA can't handle more than two levels, and no amount of technical magic will help that. The only solution is to add a layer of domain expertise by practitioners, who must make some decisions. And the underlying integration software has to be "domain aware" to know that this situation can occur and what to do about it.

Here is another example. Let's say your organization is implementing the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe). You need to have the high-level status of either "Ready for Release" or "In Development" at the Feature level. That is all the portfolio manager needs to know - and his tool is configured to handle those statuses.

But your developers have gotten deep into kanban, so the statuses for them are not just "In Development,"  but rather "Ready for SWAG," "Ready for UX Design," "Ready for Scoping," "Ready for Done Review," etc. What do you do?

Any integration software will know to provide a transformation that allows for multiple statuses in one tool to map to a single status in another tool. But domain aware integration software will provide a much needed level of ease of configuration (i.e. no coding) and should be able to automate the transformation needed. This is only possible if you "layer on" the domain expertise on top of the underlying technical engine.

General integration solutions that are nonspecific to the problem simply can't do this because they have no semantic understanding of the underlying information. Without really understanding the meaning of the data, which requires domain expertise, it is much harder to craft solutions that actually address the business problem you are trying to solve.

Dumb vs. Smart Integration
Consider this next example of integration using what I call dumb (generic) integration and smart (domain aware) integration techniques: Your organization needs to flow defects between itself and all suppliers. Defects are probably the most well understood and clearly defined artifacts that exist in software development. A dumb integration approach would simply list all the attributes that all defects have and then have you map each attribute to an attribute on the other side. If you have no insight into the actual goals of why these defects need to flow between systems, it would be legitimate to use this approach.

Since you are crossing organizational boundaries, you might want to create a "smart" integration to ensure that no proprietary attributes are being flowed outside your organization. And you may wish to limit attributes, for example, only to primary attributes such as priority and status to ensure efficient flow.

Rather than starting from scratch and working through all of the many impedance mismatches (e.g. one tool uses two attributes to represent priority and the other one uses only one attribute to represent priority), it makes sense for the integration tool to tell you what aspects of a defect should be flowed between tools and offer suggestions regarding when and how to best transform information when necessary. Without a layer of domain expertise, this can't be done.

Is the Tool Domain Aware?
All of these impedance mismatch examples require an understanding of the underlying business problem specific to software delivery that is being solved. As such, they are not low-level technology problems. And thus, it is critical that the first question that anyone asks when considering the right tools to help with integration is, "Is this tool domain aware?"

When moving medical records between EMR systems, consider software from a vendor that understands the healthcare industry. The same approach holds true for financial software. Software development is no different. Your approach to integrating SDLC tools should start from a place of domain expertise. Because to do SDLC integration well, you can't just simply throw technology at it. You have to bake in domain knowledge. It's as simple as that.

More Stories By Nicole Bryan

Nicole Bryan has extensive experience in software and product development, focused primarily on bringing data visualization and human considerations to the forefront of Application Lifecycle Management, and is currently Vice President of Product Management at Tasktop. Prior to this she served as Director of Product Management at Borland Software/Micro Focus, where she was responsible for creating a new Agile development management tool. Prior to Borland, she was a Director at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) Regulatory Division, where she managed some of the first Agile project teams at the NYSE, and VP of Engineering at OneHarbor (purchased by National City Investments).

Nicole holds a Master of Science in Computer Science from DePaul University. She is passionate about improving how software is created and delivered – making the experience enjoyable, fun and yes, even delightful.

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.


@CloudExpo Stories
Founded in 2000, Chetu Inc. is a global provider of customized software development solutions and IT staff augmentation services for software technology providers. By providing clients with unparalleled niche technology expertise and industry experience, Chetu has become the premiere long-term, back-end software development partner for start-ups, SMBs, and Fortune 500 companies. Chetu is headquartered in Plantation, Florida, with thirteen offices throughout the U.S. and abroad.
Dion Hinchcliffe is an internationally recognized digital expert, bestselling book author, frequent keynote speaker, analyst, futurist, and transformation expert based in Washington, DC. He is currently Chief Strategy Officer at the industry-leading digital strategy and online community solutions firm, 7Summits.
Bill Schmarzo, author of "Big Data: Understanding How Data Powers Big Business" and "Big Data MBA: Driving Business Strategies with Data Science," is responsible for setting the strategy and defining the Big Data service offerings and capabilities for EMC Global Services Big Data Practice. As the CTO for the Big Data Practice, he is responsible for working with organizations to help them identify where and how to start their big data journeys. He's written several white papers, is an avid blogge...
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that All in Mobile, a mobile app development company from Poland, will exhibit at the 22nd International CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO. All In Mobile is a mobile app development company from Poland. Since 2014, they maintain passion for developing mobile applications for enterprises and startups worldwide.
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that Dez Blanchfield joined the faculty of CloudEXPO's "10-Year Anniversary Event" which will take place on November 11-13, 2018 in New York City. Dez is a strategic leader in business and digital transformation with 25 years of experience in the IT and telecommunications industries developing strategies and implementing business initiatives. He has a breadth of expertise spanning technologies such as cloud computing, big data and analytics, cognitive computing, m...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, James Henry, Co-CEO/CTO of Calgary Scientific Inc., introduced you to the challenges, solutions and benefits of training AI systems to solve visual problems with an emphasis on improving AIs with continuous training in the field. He explored applications in several industries and discussed technologies that allow the deployment of advanced visualization solutions to the cloud.
We all know that end users experience the Internet primarily with mobile devices. From an app development perspective, we know that successfully responding to the needs of mobile customers depends on rapid DevOps – failing fast, in short, until the right solution evolves in your customers' relationship to your business. Whether you’re decomposing an SOA monolith, or developing a new application cloud natively, it’s not a question of using microservices – not doing so will be a path to eventual b...
I think DevOps is now a rambunctious teenager - it's starting to get a mind of its own, wanting to get its own things but it still needs some adult supervision," explained Thomas Hooker, VP of marketing at CollabNet, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Enterprises are moving to the cloud faster than most of us in security expected. CIOs are going from 0 to 100 in cloud adoption and leaving security teams in the dust. Once cloud is part of an enterprise stack, it’s unclear who has responsibility for the protection of applications, services, and data. When cloud breaches occur, whether active compromise or a publicly accessible database, the blame must fall on both service providers and users. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ben Johnson, C...
In this presentation, you will learn first hand what works and what doesn't while architecting and deploying OpenStack. Some of the topics will include:- best practices for creating repeatable deployments of OpenStack- multi-site considerations- how to customize OpenStack to integrate with your existing systems and security best practices.
"MobiDev is a software development company and we do complex, custom software development for everybody from entrepreneurs to large enterprises," explained Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Agile has finally jumped the technology shark, expanding outside the software world. Enterprises are now increasingly adopting Agile practices across their organizations in order to successfully navigate the disruptive waters that threaten to drown them. In our quest for establishing change as a core competency in our organizations, this business-centric notion of Agile is an essential component of Agile Digital Transformation. In the years since the publication of the Agile Manifesto, the conn...
"We work around really protecting the confidentiality of information, and by doing so we've developed implementations of encryption through a patented process that is known as superencipherment," explained Richard Blech, CEO of Secure Channels Inc., in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Major trends and emerging technologies – from virtual reality and IoT, to Big Data and algorithms – are helping organizations innovate in the digital era. However, to create real business value, IT must think beyond the ‘what’ of digital transformation to the ‘how’ to harness emerging trends, innovation and disruption. Architecture is the key that underpins and ties all these efforts together. In the digital age, it’s important to invest in architecture, extend the enterprise footprint to the cl...
Leading companies, from the Global Fortune 500 to the smallest companies, are adopting hybrid cloud as the path to business advantage. Hybrid cloud depends on cloud services and on-premises infrastructure working in unison. Successful implementations require new levels of data mobility, enabled by an automated and seamless flow across on-premises and cloud resources. In his general session at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Tevis, an IBM Storage Software Technical Strategist and Customer Solution Architec...
Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, a director and senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, discussed the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
"We were founded in 2003 and the way we were founded was about good backup and good disaster recovery for our clients, and for the last 20 years we've been pretty consistent with that," noted Marc Malafronte, Territory Manager at StorageCraft, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Effectively SMBs and government programs must address compounded regulatory compliance requirements. The most recent are Controlled Unclassified Information and the EU's GDPR have Board Level implications. Managing sensitive data protection will likely result in acquisition criteria, demonstration requests and new requirements. Developers, as part of the pre-planning process and the associated supply chain, could benefit from updating their code libraries and design by incorporating changes. In...
Andi Mann, Chief Technology Advocate at Splunk, is an accomplished digital business executive with extensive global expertise as a strategist, technologist, innovator, marketer, and communicator. For over 30 years across five continents, he has built success with Fortune 500 corporations, vendors, governments, and as a leading research analyst and consultant.
No hype cycles or predictions of zillions of things here. IoT is big. You get it. You know your business and have great ideas for a business transformation strategy. What comes next? Time to make it happen. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jay Mason, Associate Partner at M&S Consulting, presented a step-by-step plan to develop your technology implementation strategy. He discussed the evaluation of communication standards and IoT messaging protocols, data analytics considerations, edge-to-cloud tec...
Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more business becomes digital the more stakeholders are interested in this data including how it relates to business. Some of these people have never used a monitoring tool before. They have a question on their mind like “How is my application doing” but no id...