Feature Story

Ensuring quality, for lightning-fast app development

by Kevin Delaney

Ensuring quality, for lightning-fast app development

As the app lifecycle accelerates, two startups close critical gaps

As the COVID-19 pandemic revealed, technology is critical to just about everything

That means software and apps need to be delivered faster and more efficiently to keep not just businesses — but the world — running smoothly, even in the face of fast-changing developments. 

DevOps has been an essential piece of the speed-and-agility puzzle. It gives developers a methodology through which to rapidly create and reconfigure the apps that, more and more, fuel our work and our lives. 

Ensuring quality amid all that speed is the mission of Sealights and Rookout, two rising DevOps startups that have caught the attention of Cisco Investments and others recently. Both are tackling the critical challenge of closing quality-control gaps across the entire app lifecycle — from coding to deployment to upgrades. 

While Sealights focuses on vastly improved methods for testing software, Rookout creates precise visibility into live applications at the code level, for pinpointing bugs and enabling fast, efficient changes. Together, they are enabling developers to be even more innovative and agile. 

“DevOps is enabling the development and delivery of software for the digital world, because it’s all based around software,” said Eran Sher of Sealights. “And the way you develop and deliver software in the digital era, it needs to be very, very fast.”

Super-fast development can introduce new problems, however. 

“A big area in the software development life cycle that didn’t go through this transformation is quality management,” Sher added. “How will you manage quality in such a high-velocity environment. Because you can develop and deliver software changes very, very fast, but the quality can be a big issue. It’s also causing a lot of inefficiencies within the software development and delivery cycles.”

 

A window into the soul — of software

Rookout is all about visibility: It enables developers to extract data from any line of code in a live application. And by taking the guesswork out of debugging software, it represents a powerful capability for DevOps teams.  

“The software is becoming more complex, and it’s becoming ever harder for engineers to figure out what the code is doing, simply by reading it,” said Liran Haimovitch of Rookout. “And with the large number of apps, each app becomes more complex by itself — and even more so once those apps become interconnected.”

Rookout gives developers a clear window into just what’s going on, particularly to see when and where bugs arise. 

“Rookout enables engineers to observe their code in real-world environments,” Haimovitch said, “during production, staging, anywhere they want. We allow them to get much more accurate information, faster feedback loops, and essentially allow them to do their jobs further and faster.”

Beyond finding bugs, that visibility also enables software engineers to make fast changes in response to new demands. 

“It’s applicable both when you’re trying to fix a bug as well as when you’re trying to develop a new feature,” Haimovitch said. “By having additional information about how the system is currently working, you can make those changes better and get it right the first time instead of having to iterate over and over again.”

 

An end to test anxiety

As software is deployed faster and faster, each new development or change has to be tested. But the testing process is often slow and cumbersome. 

“With DevOps, you give those software development teams the ability to develop in a continuous way,” said Eran Sher of Sealights. “But then, they need to wait for several hours or almost a day for all their tests to be completed. That’s the bottleneck that exists today.”

Many of those tests are redundant or never needed to be done in the first place. With advanced analytics, machine learning, and AI, Sealights is accelerating and streamlining the process. 

“One part of our solution is the ability to use AI to understand which are the relevant tests to the code change that was done,” Sher said. “And in that case you can save a lot of time. You don’t need to run all your tests all the time. Run only the relevant tests. It accelerates the engineering experience, the engineering processes, the development and delivery processes.”

With greatly streamlined testing, teams and resources are freed for more important tasks, like innovating new solutions. 

“You can have the fastest process on Earth, but if your engineering team is spending 30 or 40 percent of their time fixing bugs, they are not that innovative and they’re not that fast,” Sher explained. “So you need to keep the amount of bugs and defects and incident on the lower hand. And this is where we help.”

 

Quality and speed, for a better future

A this point, apps support nearly every aspect of our lives. And that trend will only continue with newer technologies like AI and Internet of Things. So ensuring that apps are efficient and flexible as possible represents a larger mission. In that sense, building quality and speed across the app development lifecycle goes far beyond saving developers’ time.

Cisco, for example, is expanding into software, cloud, and apps in a big way, as its acquisition of companies like AppDynamics have demonstrated. Investing in Rookout and Sealights expands Cisco’s capabilities in key ways, and supports its stated purpose, to power an inclusive future for all. 

“Everyone is now working remotely and you need to work at a very fast pace,” Sher said. “You need a central quality intelligence to help you make a decision. Because when we're doing a test gap analysis, it's not just for the developer himself or herself. It’s to understand the gaps across your entire team, across other teams, other silos that are participating in the software delivery process. So you're able to see the big picture, get actionable analytics, and drive this transformation faster.”

Haimovitch spoke of the wider impact of gaining great visibility into the software, thereby enabling agility and flexibility at every stage. 

“Rookout is being used throughout the entire software development life cycle,” Haimovitch said, “because whenever you're trying to add a new feature to an existing software, then knowing what the software is currently doing makes a huge impact, whether you are designing a new feature, evaluating a new feature, developing the new feature, or deploying it.”

And with these kinds of capabilities, we all benefit. 

“The more we can empower developers,” Sher concluded, “and the more we can give them total ownership over it, the better, cheaper, higher quality software we’re all going to have. That’s what we do, empowering engineers to better serve the business, and the communities.”

 

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