So you’ve assembled a development team of talented, seasoned, empathetic software engineers, but your speed-to-market is still lagging behind. Maybe it’s your tools?
Speed-to-Market Strategy Built from the Ground Up
Don’t send your team of smart creatives into a firefight with wooden guns. Make sure that every level of your development is optimized for efficiency from the ground up. Are the following three levels of SaaS product development helping or sabotaging your speed-to-market?
- Backend Storage
- Build Server
- Code Analysis Productivity Extensions
The systems used for your backend storage have the potential to make or break your productivity. You might be using an expensive backend storage system that will considerably lock up your development time every time an upgrade needs to happen. There are alternatives to the traditional backend storage that could help your company make dynamic changes, and fuel your innovation strategy.
At Patriot Software, we use Ceph distributed storage. Here’s Patriot Software’s principal systems engineer to explain how we use it.
“Ceph is a distributed object storage system. How we use it at Patriot is as a replacement backend storage. Traditionally, we went with EMC for all of our backend storage needs, like Windows’ shares, SQL servers, and our VMware; basically anything that has backend storage. We used to pay EMC a lot of money to do that. We didn’t want to go with EMC anymore because it was a lot more expense and, after a few years, you had to do this thing called a “Forklift Upgrade.” So, when they’d upgrade their product, we had to upgrade all of our systems. Things don’t move that quickly, so to keep support, we had to keep changing things on our end frequently. It’s hard to emulate user empathy when our systems are constantly inconveniencing anyone involved. Using Ceph, we’re able to satisfy and provide almost all of our storage needs, and we have the freedom to use whatever system we want using the hardware we want. This means that we can dynamically change quicker— I’ve had hardware quotes take months. Ceph isn’t proprietary, which speeds that process up.”
Build servers are a great way to isolate the environment of your coding process. Coordinated development is one of the most important aspects of success when it comes to SaaS speed-to-market, and continuous integration servers help to achieve it. However, not all CI servers are built the same. You’ll want a build server that can be updated easily, integrates with your existing tools, and helps you achieve the best possible code quality.
Here is Patriot Software’s senior dev and security analyst talking about TeamCity, and how Patriot Software makes the most of it:
“TeamCity is made by JetBrains and it’s pretty powerful. Now, one downside is that it’s not free. There are free products out there that do portions of the same things, but this one is really slick and it’s at a nominal cost. I guess it seems expensive only because there are similar, free offerings out there.
It plugs into GitHub and Visual Studio. It has NUnit to run our tests, and manages running the tests, building the projects, and deploying the changes to our sites and web apps. And it has a slick GUI. It can also give us user permissions so we can control access to levels of the build server, so interns don’t have the same kind of access to the build that we do. We can cut off permissions as well, and do email blast updates. It’s pretty cool.”
On the absolute highest level of development, you’ll want to shave off any unnecessary complications. Finding an extension that integrates with your development environment is a must, and will make the lives of your software engineers a lot easier when it comes to syntax errors, refactoring, navigation, and standards compliance.
Once again, Patriot Software’s senior dev and security analyst:
“We get a lot of mileage out of ReSharper, also by JetBrains. So much so that I sometimes use Visual Studio forgetting that Visual Studio doesn’t have all the awesome tools that ReSharper offers, and are built directly in!
ReSharper makes a lot of what we do here so much easier. It extends Visual Studio’s abilities to a level that makes it much more usable. It’s difficult to list it all here, but, for us, ReSharper handles running all unit tests locally. We can create rules for everyone so we can make sure variables are the same and certain actions are illegal. It also does a tremendous job of finding and renaming classes and methods, and the search tool is awesome. Our biggest use here is definitely the search, which is phenomenal. Honestly, I think one of the biggest compliments you can pay a software plugin is to admit you’re lost when it’s not installed. If you’re using Visual Studio without ReSharper, you’re missing out.”Don’t send your developers into a firefight with wooden guns. Make sure their tools are optimized for efficiency.