ESDC Retrospective

Last week, the OutSystems team attended the Enterprise Software Development Conference (ESDC) in San Mateo California. This is the first year for this show and, as Alan Zeichick notes, it takes up where the old SD West conference left off.  As gold sponsors of the show, we got to both attend the sessions and talk to the conference attendees at the OutSystems booth. I just wanted to share a few highlights & take-aways from the show:

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On Monday afternoon I was pleased to take part in the MythBlasters session and offered the crowd two myths to choose from : #1 “You Cannot Scale Agile in Enterprise IT shops” or #2 “It is less risky and more cost effective to buy a package than to do custom development.”

The audience chose to ‘blast’ the Buy vs. Build myth.  My premise for blasting this myth is based on the success of our customers in building new custom applications for things like customer relationship management, call center management, various HR applications like recruiting, expense management, company portals, etc.  I shared the top three ingredients for successfully building vs. buying:  Speed to develop, rapid change and business involvement at each step.  Of course, our customers accomplish this by using the Agile Platform and an agile methodology.

I think I’ll keep Myth #1 for another blog post – but what are you seeing on Buy vs. Build myth? Do you agree that building is a better way to go for many apps where there is a package?

Another highlight: Kent Beck‘s keynote on “Responsive Design: Efficiency Through Safety.”  This was the first time I had heard Kent speak.  He started off by referencing Ed Yourdon‘s work on Systems Design and how it led him to try and distill his own working process for design.  This was the premise for his presentation.  My take-away was that no matter what you do, your design will change. I think we all accept this as fact – especially for application software.  Kent then explained his techniques to reduce the risk when making design changes.  For each of his examples I found myself thinking ‘This is not really a problem with the Agile Platform because the TrueChange™ engine will keep you from breaking stuff you did not intend to break, allowing you to move very fast with little risk.”  If you are hand-coding, then Kent’s four techniques (as described here by Alan Zeichick) to reduce risk when making change is great advice, but why do that if you don’t have to?  BTW, I think Kent would love the Agile Platform.

Since this was a new conference we’ve been asked who attended and why. Here are some thoughts from the OutSystems team:

  • The crowd we met included CIOs, IT directors, Enterprise Architects, project managers, analysts and software engineers. Interestingly, a large proportion of the conference attendees represented Enterprise IT (rather than just the ISV folks who usually attend Agile conferences) …I’d say Agile is definitely going (or has gone) mainstream!
  • Many people were there to learn more about Agile and find out if it fit into their world.  They realize that Agile really makes sense, and that they should implement it, but were trying to learn the best ways to do this – both with or without tools to help them.
  • The general feeling was that Agile is the growing wave of the present and the future – and many felt they needed to add Agile to their resumes, because it is rapidly growing in popularity.  One attendee stated that he felt Agile was the only “fad” methodology that would last because it actually works and makes sense.
  • A few folks told us they were already using some Agile practices, but just had never labeled them as such and would like to get their organizations to officially adopt Agile.


About the author

Mike Jones

Mike is a professed 'hater' of complexity. He has been in the IT industry since the mid 80's where he learned his technical skills at EDS and Texas Instruments. He believes there is a simpler way for IT professionals to deliver business value that requires a pragmatic mix of agile methods and application development tools.


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