Part 2: Agile in an Enterprise Environment

Abhinav Keswani February 15, 2011

Continuing from my previous post about agile development in the corporate context, I will describe the technology we used to be able to rapidly deliver web applications.

To deliver 50 web applications in a year we needed some basic structures in place:

  • An application framework which would allow us to rapidly create and maintain web apps, with in-built flexibility given ever changing requirements
  • An underlying infrastructure that would serve 150 apps (suggesting a 3 year lifespan)
  • A modicum of secure controls over our application environment and infrastructure so as to autonomously deliver our work
  • Automation
  • More automation

We chose to use the following:

  • The Symfony MVC framework, and somewhat confusingly, the JBoss Seam framework 1
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux as it was our corporate standard Linux – to create dev, test and prod environments
  • Apache, MySQL to round out web serving and the database of choice
  • A small arsenal of shell and perl combined with clever sudo access for non-root users to give thorough and secure control over these hosts
  • Atlassian Jira and Confluence for issue tracking and documentation respectively
  • Atlassian Fisheye and Crucible plus Subversion for development peer review and source code management respectively.
  • Socialcast for inside the firewall microblogging and collaboration

With all of the above, we were able to manage the delivery of an entire web application from concept to reality without the need to engage any other IT teams. Autonomous operation in a sometimes bureaucratic environment is the ideal…

We quickly realised that there were common components being delivered repeatedly – such as the for these applications to authenticate against Active Directory. Or, that employee lookups were being performed against that corporate directory. We quickly developed reusable modules of code that would allow any app to have these common functions without needing to write any code.

Knowing what I know now, I would humbly suggest a few changes to the above stack – but more of that will be covered later…

I discussed these structures at a recent cloudcamp in Auckland – suggesting that a PaaS approach to deployment scalable web apps would be ideal for this team, however venturing outside the firewall – especially on cloud platforms is a pretty big ask for a somewhat conservative company.

1 With all due respect, we included Java in our stack just to appease a few people who felt there is no other choice for the “Enterprise”.

Abhinav Keswani

Abhinav Keswani

Abhinav has methodically honed his experience on multi-tiered technology solutions for a wide range of organizations. He always seeks out business value and enjoys bringing a complete perspective to collaboration with our clients. You can also find him on an MTB trail or climbing at the crag.