Welcome!

SDN Journal Authors: Chris Colosimo, Vinod Mohan, Jason Bloomberg, Scott Davis, Mike Wood

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
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo 2016 in New York. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, is co-located with 20th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry p...
Grape Up is a software company, specialized in cloud native application development and professional services related to Cloud Foundry PaaS. With five expert teams that operate in various sectors of the market across the USA and Europe, we work with a variety of customers from emerging startups to Fortune 1000 companies.
Financial Technology has become a topic of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities. Accordingly, attendees at the upcoming 20th Cloud Expo at the Javits Center in New York, June 6-8, 2017, will find fresh new content in a new track called FinTech.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CollabNet, a global leader in enterprise software development, release automation and DevOps solutions, will be a Bronze Sponsor of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, taking place from June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CollabNet offers a broad range of solutions with the mission of helping modern organizations deliver quality software at speed. The company’s latest innovation, the DevOps Lifecycle Manager (DLM), supports Value S...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interoute, owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Interoute is the owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform which encompasses 12 data centers, 14 virtual data centers and 31 colocation centers, with connections to 195 add...
Multiple data types are pouring into IoT deployments. Data is coming in small packages as well as enormous files and data streams of many sizes. Widespread use of mobile devices adds to the total. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists will look at the tools and environments that are being put to use in IoT deployments, as well as the team skills a modern enterprise IT shop needs to keep things running, get a handle on all this data, and deli...
Automation is enabling enterprises to design, deploy, and manage more complex, hybrid cloud environments. Yet the people who manage these environments must be trained in and understanding these environments better than ever before. A new era of analytics and cognitive computing is adding intelligence, but also more complexity, to these cloud environments. How smart is your cloud? How smart should it be? In this power panel at 20th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, pane...
@ThingsExpo has been named the Most Influential ‘Smart Cities - IIoT' Account and @BigDataExpo has been named fourteenth by Right Relevance (RR), which provides curated information and intelligence on approximately 50,000 topics. In addition, Right Relevance provides an Insights offering that combines the above Topics and Influencers information with real time conversations to provide actionable intelligence with visualizations to enable decision making. The Insights service is applicable to eve...
The 20th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Containers, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Grape Up will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct. 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Grape Up is a software company specializing in cloud native application development and professional services related to Cloud Foundry PaaS. With five expert teams that operate in various sectors of the market across the U.S. and Europe, Grape Up works with a variety of customers from emergi...
DevOps is often described as a combination of technology and culture. Without both, DevOps isn't complete. However, applying the culture to outdated technology is a recipe for disaster; as response times grow and connections between teams are delayed by technology, the culture will die. A Nutanix Enterprise Cloud has many benefits that provide the needed base for a true DevOps paradigm.
In his keynote at 19th Cloud Expo, Sheng Liang, co-founder and CEO of Rancher Labs, discussed the technological advances and new business opportunities created by the rapid adoption of containers. With the success of Amazon Web Services (AWS) and various open source technologies used to build private clouds, cloud computing has become an essential component of IT strategy. However, users continue to face challenges in implementing clouds, as older technologies evolve and newer ones like Docker c...
With billions of sensors deployed worldwide, the amount of machine-generated data will soon exceed what our networks can handle. But consumers and businesses will expect seamless experiences and real-time responsiveness. What does this mean for IoT devices and the infrastructure that supports them? More of the data will need to be handled at - or closer to - the devices themselves.
Cloud promises the agility required by today’s digital businesses. As organizations adopt cloud based infrastructures and services, their IT resources become increasingly dynamic and hybrid in nature. Managing these require modern IT operations and tools. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Raj Sundaram, Senior Principal Product Manager at CA Technologies, will discuss how to modernize your IT operations in order to proactively manage your hybrid cloud and IT environments. He will be sharing be...
As DevOps methodologies expand their reach across the enterprise, organizations face the daunting challenge of adapting related cloud strategies to ensure optimal alignment, from managing complexity to ensuring proper governance. How can culture, automation, legacy apps and even budget be reexamined to enable this ongoing shift within the modern software factory?
Building a cross-cloud operational model can be a daunting task. Per-cloud silos are not the answer, but neither is a fully generic abstraction plane that strips out capabilities unique to a particular provider. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Chris Wolf, VP & Chief Technology Officer, Global Field & Industry at VMware, will discuss how successful organizations approach cloud operations and management, with insights into where operations should be centralized and when it’s best to decentraliz...
SYS-CON Events announced today that T-Mobile will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. As America's Un-carrier, T-Mobile US, Inc., is redefining the way consumers and businesses buy wireless services through leading product and service innovation. The Company's advanced nationwide 4G LTE network delivers outstanding wireless experiences to 67.4 million customers who are unwilling to compromise on ...
@GonzalezCarmen has been ranked the Number One Influencer and @ThingsExpo has been named the Number One Brand in the “M2M 2016: Top 100 Influencers and Brands” by Analytic. Onalytica analyzed tweets over the last 6 months mentioning the keywords M2M OR “Machine to Machine.” They then identified the top 100 most influential brands and individuals leading the discussion on Twitter.
In recent years, containers have taken the world by storm. Companies of all sizes and industries have realized the massive benefits of containers, such as unprecedented mobility, higher hardware utilization, and increased flexibility and agility; however, many containers today are non-persistent. Containers without persistence miss out on many benefits, and in many cases simply pass the responsibility of persistence onto other infrastructure, adding additional complexity.
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @CloudExpo | @ThingsExpo, June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY and October 31 - November 2, 2017, Santa Clara Convention Center, CA. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.