7 Signs you may need Application Release Automation

Posted on : 31-05-2013 | By : jo.rose | In : Innovation

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With the increasing complexity of business environments and the quickening pace of application updates from both third parties and internal development, it is easy for an environments or operations teams to feel overwhelmed. The answer to this on-coming storm may be more release automation.

Here are 7 signs that you may need Application Release Automation:

  1. When releasing to an environment, you have a mess of remote desktop sessions open on your workstation and keep performing tasks on the wrong machine, when you don’t realise just in time that is.
  2. Someone leaves or goes on holiday and you discover, to your horror, that no-one knows the magic incantation needed to perform an obscure part of a release in a particular environment.
  3. The development team need access to your precious environment configurations in order to deliver you a releasable build from their agile/waterfall/tantric process.
  4. In your busy team, it is difficult to keep track over time of who is pushing out the most releases, who is having to pull back the most release that they should not have pushed out and who is playing Candy Crush.
  5. Whilst you are releasing to an environment, someone else starts up that environment causing chaos.
  6. You cause chaos by starting up an environment that someone else is releasing to.
  7. Your Mean Time to Pub (MTP) has increased dramatically and opportunities for this vitally important team building activity have dwindled with consequent effects on team cohesion.

If you recognise any of the above then you might want to think about automating your release processes. With pressure on teams to cope with an ever accelerating level of application change, now is the time to cut out the repeated pain of  taxing releases and put in place repeatable and recoverable processes.

Contributor: Andrew Porrer – Technical Director – Heathwest Systems (www.heathwest.com)

For a demo of our application release automation and management software or to talk about your requirments, please feel free to contact me at andrew.porrer@heathwest.com


Google Eyephone takes on Apple iPhone – what’s next in wearable technology?

Posted on : 31-05-2013 | By : richard.gale | In : Innovation

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Phones are everywhere

Obvious statement but true – mobile & smart phones are the first true utility computing for individuals. The growth has been phenomenal and the integration to our lives has been huge and growing. They We now don’t have to plan how to get somewhere before we start, we don’t need to know how to get somewhere, we have virtually unlimited information on tap and local to our person. This was still a fantasy world just 10 years ago and the convergence of technology and our lives has only just begun.

Phones are limited

Phones are basically blocks of metal and plastic and you need to use at least one of your two hands and both of your eyes  to use it effectively. When you are at a desk this is not a major issue but when you are mobile driving or walking then it becomes a problem. Using phones for anything but calls whilst driving is frowned upon and often illegal, using phones whilst walking can be either annoying for other pavement users or dangerous when crossing streets etc.

The fundamentals of phones have not changed much in the last 20 years, from the original ‘bricks’ they shrank down to a size that was virtually unusable and now the trend is to grow them to a size which, again, is virtually unusable. The new 6″ screens being developed may mean you’ll need a bigger head to use the phone correctly.

There has been huge jump forwards in technology and the amount of functions that can be built into a device but the limitations are holding the thing in your hand and putting it to your ear to make a call.

The next big trend is wearable technology

When I was at college many years ago one of the lecturers specialised in human computer interaction. His classes were often the most entertaining of the course and I still remember him talking about ‘data gloves’ – used by NASA in training astronauts – they were gloves which provided feedback through sensors and feedback motors to provide sensation and feeling so enabling the virtual world to become reality. He did also make reference to  ‘data suits’ and hinted of the ‘fun’ that they could provide through full body sensors – but that’s another story…

Google Glass has been the story of the last few months. Wearable tech that you can use to navigate, find friends, things you want to do and generally give you an amazing amount of information about the world you are travelling through whilst allowing you to keep your hands and most of your vision free.

Whilst laughing off Google Glass Tim Cook has also hinted that Apple is heavily into wearable technology. There have been many rumours of the iWatch and Sony already has a watch paired with it’s Xperia Z smartphone.

We think this is one of the most exciting areas of personal technology growth. Combining clothing, wearable and jewellery and phones/computing must be the way forward to for the next stages of human computer convergence.

Why won’t wearable technology take off?

Overall we think it will but moving from a separate block of technology you can hide in your pocket to something which is either attached or worn by a person will introduce other variables. These have failed in the past – Bluetooth earpieces have not been and never will be fashionable, also trends in fashion may counter some of the aims of the technology companies.

Will people want to wear technology? – now most people under 40 don’t wear watches – if they do it is more likely to be as a statement  rather than to tell the time – their phone has the time and is in constant use – so they don’t need another timepiece. Again with glasses, there is a fashion element of ‘geek chic’ but I’m not sure Google Glass quite has that yet. Apple is perhaps the most fashionable technology brand they may be able overcome this.

What’s next?

As technology gets smaller and cheaper then it will become easier to build into more things. There are already head’s up displays in high end cars and this will become standard with Google streetview overlaying the road you are driving on with real and real-time directions. Clothing will have technology built in – maybe shoes could have Satnavs with sensors directing you left and right whilst you walk, hoodies with headphones, running tee shirts with heart monitors, also as projection is the next big thing for mobiles then you could have a 3D projection of the world around you from your coat as you walk, cycle, drive along the road or a film as you sit on a train or plane.

We are looking forward to the next period in the evolution of truly personal computing.



Laptop, Tablet and Smartphone – convergence or confusion?

Posted on : 31-05-2013 | By : john.vincent | In : Innovation

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Last month we wrote an article around the demise of the desktop led among others by consumerisation, cloud, tablets/smartphones and the need for user mobility.

This of course brings another question to the forefront. Whilst for now the race between laptops, tablets and smartphones gathers pace, what devices will we be pinning our digital work and social lives to in the future?

IDC recently produced some shipment predictions and market share on the future “Smart Connected Device” from 2012-2017 (see below);

The figures, indicate (and underpin) a 50% decline in the desktop market share (although still significant volumes) and a slower decline for laptops. This against a near triple growth for the tablet market.

Maybe not a real surprise, but 2017 is a long way off and there is certainly some uncertainty on how this will develop, winners/losers and possible convergence.

As recently as April, Blackberry’s CEO, Thorsten Heins, actually questioned the future of the tablet computer. In an interview with the Milken Institute conference he stated “In five years I don’t think there’ll be a reason to have a tablet anymore”, adding “Maybe a big screen in your workspace, but not a tablet as such. Tablets themselves are not a good business model.”

Now, this may be somewhat influenced by the disappointing debut of the Blackberry Playbook , on which they took a $485 million write down in 2012, but could he have a point?

Amazon recently filed a patent application for the future of “remote displays”, where the portable devices we currently carry are transformed into simply screens with minimal storage and no “bulky” batteries or processors. How? By delivering these key components wirelessly from a nearby base station. Perhaps interesting for workplace/campus based deployment.

Anyway, back to today…Looking around the our own office, and that of our clients, I see little evidence of anyone ditching their laptop and docking station in favour of performing all of their day-to-day activities only on a tablet. The estimated 20% of work activity that requires PC based application software still dictates user requirements. Likewise, almost no one seems to use a laptop “on the move” where speed of use and form factor are important.

And then there’s the ubiquitous Smartphone. I haven’t heard of anyone predicting the demise of that, although with screen sizes continuously edging up, maybe it is? (and we all seem to have forgiven it for often being fairly useless at it’s primary function….as a phone).

So, are we destined for a life of being laden down with three devices for the foreseeable? Opinions differ but both the physical and financial burden will naturally drive convergence over the coming years. What is will look like is still fuzzy.

You could argue that the laptop and tablet market is already converging with the Windows 8 or Android hybrids, with detachable screens from the keyboard. The problem is, they are generally not great (according to a less than scientific straw poll in the office ;-)….based on compromises such as weight, screen size and battery life.

This area is naturally the most ripe for convergence. We believe the device boundaries will become more and more blurred to the point where the differentiation between laptop vs tablet is negligible in terms of functionality and value (driven by technology maturity, diminishing application dependencies through hosted/cloud based delivery and mobile data access improvements).

What is clear, is that Smartphones are getting Smarter (some would argue too much for their own good). If you look at the current inn0vation driven by manufacturers such as Samsung and HTC with the inclusion of sensors such as gyroscope, accelerometer, magnetometer to interact with the environment, you can predict where this is heading (with the Galaxy S4, Samsung slipped in pressure, temperature, and humidity sniffers).

So, it looks like maybe a dual mobile device strategy will emerge. A content driven compute product, predominantly for work and input intensive tasks sitting somewhere between the tablet/laptop, and the smartphone bringing a new connected experience with the outside world, augmented reality etc.

And then there’s the whole wearable technology, such as Google Eye glasses and “iWatch”…we are set to be an “always on” human race.