Using the Diffusion of Innovations Model to Guide Us to the Future of Automation
The innovators in our current technology climate are implementing another approach– software development, widely known as CI/CD, or Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment.
For years, IT professionals have been trying to crack the code to provide the best end-user experience. So how do we provide the best user experience? You would think I would say we need to implement this tool or that tool, but you might be wrong. Let’s explore further.
The current paradigm for addressing user issues is monitoring, and to a lesser extent, now testing. Monitoring is a fantastic idea, but the very definition of monitoring dictates that the behavior/product is implemented “during.” In IT finding issues is problematic and expensive. So, how do we adjust our thinking?
The testing we’ve traditionally have done consists of a group of technicians or users who will log into these systems or applications and test a defined set of functions. The problem is that the time between updates has decreased, and the number of tests required has increased dramatically.
The innovators in the chart below (diffusion of innovation) represent 2.5% of the population. There are those among us that are buying into the vision of doing something different right NOW.
In my opinion, those innovators in our current technology climate are implementing/investigating another approach. They borrowed the software development approach, widely known as CI/CD, or Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment.
This approach has been investigated as a means of bridging the gap between development and operational activities. Unfortunately, most issues that we are investigating as IT professionals that influence our success from an end-user experience perspective are in that gap.
So, what are the gaps?
The First Gap is Time
The average enterprise takes 71 days from discovery to release patches into production. Being exposed for 71 days to well-known vulnerabilities is BAD. So bad that the president of the US has stated you no longer have days but instead hours to patch some of the vulnerabilities which have been recently discovered. Microsoft Exchange is one such example of the SolarWinds exploits. Organizations are being forced to contend with a significant increase in the number of REQUIRED updates and are being forced to do it faster. This is a recipe for disaster if the appropriate testing is not completed. We are metaphorically running with scissors. Organizations such as Netflix have adopted this mantra.
The Second Gap is Testing
Frequently we still find major organizations utilizing manual testing as part of their release process. There are two primary issues with this—one volume, as previously pointed. There are more updates and factors in the frequency of required change, thus becoming untenable. The solution we have seen is to hire additional hands to do testing in the same amount of time. This is not a scalable solution and exposes you to the next point. Utilizing human beings as part of your testing methodology inherently introduces variability along with it. It is based upon whether something as simple as eating can change the path of reproduction steps. Automation is the only way to create a scalable solution and the added benefit of introducing consistency and repeatability of testing.
By addressing these two gaps, and ONLY by addressing these two gaps, organizations will successfully move into the future.
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