Software AG Extends Digital Business Platform with DevOps, Visualization; Empowers Agile App Lifecycle
Software AG continues to fill out its modern infrastructure portfolio for digital transformation, known as the Digital Business Platform, with new DevOps capabilities. The launch signals more support for a new-gen agile app lifecycle. IDN discusses the technologies and trends with Software AG execs.
by Vance McCarthy
"This transformation to a fully digital enterprise requires unprecedented understanding and cooperation between IT and business decision makers."
Software AG continues to fill out its modern infrastructure portfolio for digital transformation, known as the Digital Business Platform, with new DevOps capabilities. The launch signals more support from the company for a new-gen agile app lifecycle.
The webMethods DevOps Edition sports an integrated set of features for a more unified app lifecycle to design, test and launch new apps and services more quickly – and with fewer failure rates, according to Software AG’s CTO Wolfram Jost.
“The purpose of webMethods DevOps Edition is to help developers write and launch apps in shorter lead times, (and provide) IT operations with a faster mean-time to recovery,” Jost said in a statement. “[It] takes into account the need for frequent iterations and interchanges.”
The webMethods DevOps Edition includes capabilities for
- continuous development (CD)
- app deployment with low (even zero) failure rates
- better interactive and informed collaboration between front-end developers and IT operations
Among webMethods DevOps Edition’s more notable features are:
”Unplugged” and automated testing. This lets let developers develop and test their apps and new features – all without the need to be connected to a network or a server. While working locally, developers can use Eclipse/Designer with all related plug-ins continuously available. This feature ensures additions, changes and add-ons in code can be tested and prepared for upload as soon as the developer is back online, with no lost time.
Remote testing powered via simulation. The ‘simulation’ feature mimics the functionality of services, which are typically reliant on externally networked resources. This is also available to developers without their actually being plugged to a network. When a test case encounters a service being simulated, it executes the service to test against it.
Collaboration capabilities. These put developers and IT operations on the same page to better ensure more rapid and seamless delivery of new apps and services. By closing the gap between developers and IT ops, “companies can bring new features to market faster, create a more stable operating environment, and ultimately spend more time on adding further value to their apps rather than being stuck in continuous maintenance and bug-fix mode,” Jost added.
Software AG Brings DevOps, Visualization To Digital Transformation
Software AG’s webMethods DevOps Edition is architected to work with the company’s Digital Business Platform 2.0, a unified middle platform that combines a host of powerful capabilities often needed for digital transformation projects. Among them: API management; Data and services integration; Process management; Streaming analytics; In-memory performance; and Real-time performance.
“Since we launched Digital Business Platform, we’ve done some very large deals with big companies looking to do a range of digital initiatives. They look their whole infrastructure in a more holistic way,” Navdeep Sidhu, Software AG’s senior director for product marketing. “We go out with a uniquely integrated platform which can both integrate existing systems, as well as support new apps and capabilities on top.”
Sidhu shared some reasons why helping companies leverage their traditional middleware (messaging ESBs, SOA and even EDI) for digital business initiatives. “If you are a CTO or chief data officer, you are asking, ‘How can I speed up my development cycle or launch new apps faster?’ So, while they don’t say they need integration, we show them how our integrated integration platform makes it faster and easier to provide data to the new apps they are building. That’s when the ‘ah ha’ moment hits them,” he told IDN.
The webMethods DevOps Edition helps Software AG double down on this app-focused look at integration. When married to the Digital Business Platform capabilities, the combination is especially well-suited for many next-gen apps now being designed and built to leverage distributed services, data and integration for digital business, Jost added.
In specific, Software AG gives developers the extra capabilities they need to achieve continuous delivery and allow developers to quickly make changes, including various interfaces between different systems, he said.
And it’s not just developers or IT that benefit. Business users pursuing a digital business strategy will find the two products work together to speed up implementation and delivery of new apps and designs, among other benefits.
Jost expanded on Software AG’s vision and features as follows:
“In the face of growing digitization, organizations have to reinvent their business and create new business models and designs to remain successful. In combining people, business and things they also have to adapt their IT systems to rapidly changing business conditions. To complete this transformation to a fully digital enterprise requires unprecedented understanding and cooperation between IT and business decision makers. . . Software AG's Digital Business Platform 2.0 bridges this communication gap from strategic digitization planning to application development and implementation.
As digital transformation evolves and grows, companies will need to respond quickly to changing consumer behavior and consequently adapt their offerings and internal processes accordingly. This requires faster development cycles for IT applications, and webMethods DevOps can play a critical role in helping make this happen.”
Jost detailed how Software AG’s approach to its webMethods DevOps Edition aims to provide important capabilities to support a new agile digital business app lifecycle – from idea-plan-implement-launch-change-relaunch.
“Traditionally, developers created monolithic applications for their customers. Today, best practice dictates employing small, nimble development teams comprising software developers and IT Operations to work on individual applications. The root of DevOps’ success is in breaking activities into small, modular chunks. For any new product that an organization launches, DevOps teams can approach the application with a modular approach, and have a clear plan on how to break down existing monolithic products in the same fashion. This helps improve their customers’ experience with the release of new apps and updates at a pace they demand and expect.
The release of webMethods DevOps edition follows by just a few weeks Software AG’s release of business analytics and data visualization for its Digital Business Platform 2.0.
These insight-focused features, available as MashZone NextGen, allow Software AG’s Digital Business Platform to connect to multiple backend data sources. MashZone NextGen connects to different types of data sources, including JDBC-compliant data stores, streaming data (from Apama), in-memory data (from Terracotta BigMemory), ARIS tables, XML files, REST endpoints and web services, and Microsoft Excel spreadsheets.
Further, MashZone NextGen provides out-of-the-box customizable interfaces and dashboards to quickly allow IT to empower business stakeholders across the company. Among these features are:
- Unlock and visualize streaming data or data-at-rest to gain smart insights from the platform
- Launch interactive dashboards to promote visual data exploration and analytics using any device
- Perform descriptive, prescriptive and predictive analytics or deep data exploration, and visualizing this operational intelligence
This latest version of MashZone NextGen is based on Presto, which originated from Software AG’s acquisition of JackBe. It replaces Software AG’s original MashZone product.
Software AG’s Roadmaps Guide ‘Journeys’ for Digital Transformation and Customer Experience
Software AG’s approach for supporting a company’s move to the digital enterprise goes beyond technologies, tools and infrastructure. It also includes methodologies, Best Practices and roadmaps company IT and business stakeholders can follow.
Today, a move to a digital business is not just APIs or support for cloud and mobile,” Jost told IDN. “Those technologies are all important, but the true digital business strategy must be more than these. Many companies is the rush to launch a new app miss that.”
Jost put his notion in a different way: “Do you believe the most important thing a company has to do it improve their ERP, financial systems or their HR systems? Or is it important to your digital business to move them to the cloud? Yes, these are all factors. But we believe you should see the real value from a digital business strategy is to dramatically change the way you interact with customers, partners and suppliers. To really be a digital business with real value, you should ask the question: ‘Where should your change happen to make the biggest impact?’”
In this context, Jost makes a radical suggestion: “Companies need to realize they can’t simply buy their ‘digital transformation’ projects from an outside company. The most successful digital transformations will uniquely meet the needs and ideas of each company So, you need the tools and cooperation from your vendors so that you can innovate on your own. We call it ‘co-innovate’ And, over last decades, with packaged apps, first on-prem and now with cloud, companies today are just not used to that.”
Software AG’s direction, Jost said, “is to break the model of pre-packed software. We provide our customers the capabilities they’ll need to do these kinds of analyses, and then to easily and quickly build and launch these digital business apps and solutions that are suited just to their business needs.”
Further, to promote this co-innovation with its customers, Software AG is offering their unified Digital Business Platform, along with some valuable roadmap and insights. One approach proving especially valuable is what Jost calls Software AG’s Customer Journey Analysis.
“Every digitization initiative journey should start with a customer journey analysis, based on business needs,” Jost said. “So many companies say, ‘Oh, we need a mobile app because our competitors just came out with one. I have an idea, let’s try this.’ But to us, that’s not the right way. Of course after your Customer Journey analysis, if you say ‘Here a mobile app would help better service customers or help us capture better customer information.’ That’s OK. But don’t say, ‘Everyone is building mobile apps, so let’s build mobile apps.’”
Customers that think like that can easily start drowning in good mobile app ideas that may not ever get build. Or as Jost says, “Once you decide to rush to build a mobile app without a bigger strategy you can ask yourself, ‘How many do we need one, maybe two? Or would maybe 10 or 20 be better?’”
Jost shares some details on how Software AG’s Customer Journey Analysis lends focus, insight – and most importantly, higher changes of success – to digital transformation efforts.
The Customer Journey Analysis gives you the ways to look at how you interact with your customers, and really understand it, analyze it,” Jost said. This approach puts the customer – not your business systems or BPM processes – at the center of the analysis.
“Understanding how and where you touch your customer is the key to a success with digital transformation,” Jost said. “The Customer Journey Analysis asks different questions all around your touch points with customers,” he said. Jost explained the Customer Journey Analysis asks these types of questions
How do you engage with customers?
How do you provide your services?
What kinds of information (and how much) do you get from customers?
In what ways? Website? Mobile app? Phone?
“Look deeply at your customer interactions, and analyze all those touch points with the customer Then you can start to ask the questions that will help you create real, valuable change.
How many touch points do we have? How much data or information are we getting from each? Which ones are the most important? Are there touch points where we can improve the customer experience, or encourage the customer to share more information? What are we doing with the information? How quickly can our systems or users take advantage of it?
After conducting a Customer Journey Analysis, companies understand their relationships with their customers, and start asking much more interesting – and valuable – questions, Jost said.
Our customers don’t just say, ‘We need a mobile app. How quickly can we build it?’ They ask, ‘What apps need to be changed to better support the customer journey. How can we get more and better data from customers by improving their journey?’
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