This time of the season always presents a good point to reflect on the past year; to take stock of key accomplishments and milestones while also looking to next year and the opportunities it presents.
For TeraThink’s ServiceNow practice, this has been an exciting year that has ushered in a number of client successes. It has also seen the addition of some great talent to our team and the establishment of our ServiceNow community of practice.
Almost a year ago, TeraThink and Dominion Consulting merged. It seems like a good time to look back on what we have achieved.
Just because this is going to be hard is not a reason to not do it.
While I know it’s a double negative, it turns out it was exactly the right statement to make early and often. We got here relatively innocently – a casual, almost easy, conversation between entrepreneurs about the future of our respective companies. However, accurately predicting how the next year or so would go would have been impossible. We knew the merger was going to be difficult and complicated, sure, but it played out to be much more than that.
The pursuit of a successful merger and integration is an exercise of incredible loads of work, constant distraction, some elation, occasional frustration (insert sarcastic emoji here), and every other emotion in between. I can genuinely state that the process of closing the deal and then integrating these two great companies was both – one of the most difficult, and one of the most rewarding achievements of my career. Recognizing that the merger trend in our industry is not slowing down, we wanted to share a few of our key lessons learned and critical success factors from our experience with this merger.
I’ve been speaking a lot about content services of late. At TeraThink, we are a big believer that good content services are a solid foundation for excellent user experience. This is why I’ve been focused on dispelling some of the hype around content services. One of the reasons I, and TeraThink, have been trying to push past the hype is because we are actively using content services to deliver solutions at scale.
Along the way, we’ve been trying to share some of our lessons. James Fintel shared what we’ve learned about building content services agilely using Kanban. What I wanted to share was some of our lessons on the delivery of content services to a government agency.
Here at Terathink, we are working with a large government agency constructing a content services platform. This platform allows content generated by benefit applications to be shared and reused across the organization’s disparate IT applications. We are doing this through the use of application programming interfaces, or APIs.
Our agile development team manages our work using a Kanban approach, from requirements gathering to the deployment of the API to a production environment. We have honed our use of Kanban to most effectively manage the work required to take a user request to functional reality.
In an earlier blog, I wrote about a couple of takeaways regarding improvements to the ServiceNow platform from our trip to Knowledge18, Those weren’t the only key takeaways from ServiceNow’s annual conference. There was a lot of focus on improving the user experience for both the producers and consumers of ServiceNow’s features and value. Having seen many projects succeed or fail based not upon features but upon user experience, this was exciting to see.
In May, my colleagues and I attended ServiceNow’s annual conference, Knowledge18. We joined over 18,000 attendees in Las Vegas to meet, learn, share, and collaborate on all things ServiceNow. They presented a wide range of valuable content spanning all aspects of the platform. This ranged from in-depth solution-focused sessions, to industry-based workshops, to a roadmap of functionality coming to the platform.
Two of my takeaways from the conference centered on the platform improvement and their increased focus on the customer.
Microservices is the latest architectural approach to scaling applications. Their smaller, more atomic size, allows for greater agility as the impact of each iteration is more contained. This makes continuous integration and development easier as the burden of testing is less and deployment iterations are more limited in scope.
As we look to utilize Mule, and other systems, in this environment, we need to make sure that their configurations can automatically reflect their environment. As we build applications at scale and move out of the development lab, this becomes a real need. Luckily, the Spring Cloud Configuration server lets us do exactly that.
A few weeks back, I spoke on an Information Coalition webinar with Nick Inglis about getting Beyond the Hype of Content Services. We discussed content services and tried to separate the reality from the hype. If you been following, there is a lot of hype out there and has been since Gartner stopped tracking ECM (enterprise content management) and switched to content services. This has fed people’s instinct to equate content services with ECM. Many vendors and consultants are now taking their marketing messaging and simply substituting one term for the other. Even more distracting are people that reflexively reject content services because they assume the person using the term is just doing a term swap.
The truth is that content services is not ECM. It is an approach to implementing solutions that support an ECM strategy and providing sound information governance. Content services doesn’t eliminate the need for an ECM strategy or information governance. In fact, if you don’t have a strategy or proper governance, you might end up addressing the wrong things.
You still need a plan. To determine how to implement it, you need to know what content services is and how it can make a difference.
Recently, I was at the local NCC-AIIM Chapter meeting. Russ Stalters was visiting from Texas and shared the story about how he created a new, 200+ person, data management team for the BP Gulf Coast Restoration Organization. A separate organizational entity from BP, the organization was stood up in 90 days from vision to operation. It was an impressive tale involving massive amounts of information being absorbed and managed in a highly visible environment.
As Russ spoke, it became clear that two of the key lessons were around agile processes and content analytics. It generated some great discussion that took us well past the scheduled time. I wanted to take some time to share some of the highlights.
As success with DevOps continues to make progress, it ventures into taking on other areas where traditional SDLC / IT practices have been less than optimal. Alongside this need, the IT Security technical landscape has been in rapid transition, making it near impossible for security teams to keep up with both increased DevOps velocity and the changing security landscape. Now, teaming up security in the continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery (CD) model has a potential to be a game changer.
In the beginning, the movement started out being called DevOpsSec. ‘Sec’ was appended on to the end – almost like a caboose on a train – an afterthought. But in reality, security must be thought of, designed, and practiced throughout the process. In light of this, the more current term is DevSecOps – one where we weave security into our integration. Originally, marketing hype from each security software vendor clouded the concept. But, the movement is less about tools, and more about the way in which we work together, in parallel.