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The question of whether an organization should build software or buy it dates to when the first significant COTS packages (typically for accounting, computer-aided design, or manufacturing resource planning) appeared on the market between 1970 and 1990. Search for “build vs. buy software” on Google, and you get 52 million results. Most of the results on the first pages are dated around 2001-2002, so one would think that the question has been settled, mostly along the following lines: If you need a capability that is fairly generic, and will not in itself give you a competitive advantage (the way you apply it may be superior to how others do it, but the software itself will not …

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The fast rise of software talent marketplaces like oDesk and uTest represents a profound transformation. Software is no more a world of places – Silicon Valley, Seattle, Bangalore, Krakow or Tel Aviv. Rather, software is fast becoming a world of work streams. These streams are tied together through social networking and collaborative techniques in which virtual team spaces replace the site, the conference room, the metaphorical shelf on which the software artifacts are stored… and the water cooler. Three trends drive this transformation in software from a world of places to a world of streams: Shortage of talent. Have you recently tried to hire highly skilled programmers in areas such as mobile applications or cloud …

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Imagine, if you will, that all owners of data centers and agents representing buyers of computing cycles get together daily and buy and sell commodity computing units (we’ll call them containers) in an open exchange. Now imagine another group of buyers and sellers who are not just exchanging those containers, but buying and selling options on the containers — the right to buy or sell those containers at a future date. This exchange would be trading the 21st-century equivalent to the pork belly. Pork bellies were introduced as a commodity in the early 1960s in the Chicago Mercantile Exchange in tradable units of 40,000 pounds. In a strange way, the world of data center virtualization …

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Jan 112011
 
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Risk management is a formal process owned by senior executives responsible for keeping everyone safe and sound day and night. They report to internal and external audit committees or, actually, prefer to avoid any and all interaction with audit folks since even a casual discussion with auditors can result in a boatload of work for entire teams of already overworked professionals. So what do they audit and how is risk assessed? Most risks are the standard fare. If the audit tells you that your disaster recovery plans are inadequate, then the company will be placed at risk. If your wireless networks are insecure, then the risk bells will go off. If your change-control processes are …

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The following consultants have joined the Agile Practice over the past few weeks: Jurgen Appelo Brent Barton Patrick Debois Hillel Glazer Sebastian Hassinger Chris Sterling In addition, I am speaking this week with two other consultants who expressed interest in joining the practice. If they come aboard they will be adding very particular skills in specialties that are not fully represented yet in the practice. Between the old hands, the six that have just joined and those that will soon be joining, the practice is nicely positioned to offer the whole spectrum of services relevant to producing software, delivering it and delivering value through it. Think of the practice as a one-stop-shopping for engineering practices, …

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Offshoring passes the early adopter stage – the early adoption bugs (customer care, black & white view of specifications, etc) have been largely worked out now, particularly in India.  Customers have gotten better at specifications and remote management – moving away from the “do what I meant, not what I specified” approach to a more professional approach.  Indian firm are better at client management, with most having onshore support cells.  Even with the labor arbitrage decreasing, more value is being added.  This is the year offshoring will no longer be a novelty, but a mandatory aspect of the business case for delivering IT.  Although, many organizations will continue to use a politically acceptable onshore brand …

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Welcome to the sixth anniversary edition of my Enterprise Architect’s “New Year’s Resolutions.” I hope this article will give you food for thought and some inspiration for architectural growth in 2011. Learn About Business Architecture Many advances in architecture have occurred over the past few years, but one of the most rapidly advancing aspects has been business architecture. This has come from several areas. EA teams have expanded their capabilities in business architecture. Business organizations have experienced the value of an architectural approach to defining the business (analytic, focused, formal, specific, unambiguous). Finally, business architects have been pushing the envelope, illustrated by the growth in business architecture working groups and industry organizations. Business architecture is much …

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Jan 042011
 
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Over the coming few weeks we will be revising the Cutter Agile practice page in a significant manner. Various offerings will be refreshed and new ones added. These forthcoming revisions and additions apply to both consulting and training. The objective of so doing is quite straightforward: make the Agile practice a rich marketplace for Cutter clients. The idea is to pose a problem of choosing, not of choice, for clients and prospects. We will be posing this “problem” in order to give the client the final decision as to which offerings are best suited to satisfy his/her specific needs. For example, a client might prefer one software method over another. While both will probably be offered …

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Your Agile Engagement is a Strategic Opportunity

I recently gotten into a bit of hot water with one of my clients – a leading online service in a certain category – when I commented that the kind of things they do in software development and IT is really no different from what various clients of mine do in other industries. In so saying, I seem to have unintentionally pushed the “but it is really different here” button. I should have known better… Feeling a little uncomfortable with the body language in the room, I pulled out the holidays discount coupons a client of mine in the apparel business was kind enough to give me the day before. “But what is the difference?” …

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Dec 272010
 
Surfing Technical Debt

The Second Workshop on Managing Technical Debt will be held on May 23, 2011 in Honolulu, Hawaii. It is part of and co-located with the 33rd International Conference on Software Engineering (ICSE2011).  Between the workshop and the conference you can rest assured any aspect of software engineering known to mankind will be amply covered. The workshop is quite unique in its strong emphasis on rigorizing the foundations of technical debt and unifying the ways in which the generic concept is being applied. The reason for so doing is quite straightforward.  The term ‘technical debt’ has, no doubt, proven intuitively compelling. The various intuitive interpretations, however, differ in various subtle nuances. The Overview of the workshop points out: …

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