Join QA Consulting at the London AWS Summit

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Next week QA Consulting will be joining both QA Learning and QA Apprenticeships at the London AWS Summit .This year’s summit takes place on the 6th and 7th of July at the London ExCeL.

The AWS Summit is a free event is designed to educate new customers about the AWS platform, and offer existing customers information on architecture best practices and new services, whilst allowing attendees the opportunity to interact and network with thought-leaders, AWS executives, customers and product experts.

This year’s event runs over the course of two days, Tuesday 6th focuses on cloud adoption on an enterprise level, whereas the 7th provides attendees with the knowledge of how the cloud is accelerating innovation in businesses of all sizes.

If you are interested in discovering how QA Consulting can help your organisation to overcome the challenges of deploying cloud in large companies or looking to accelerate cloud adoption stop by the QA stand and chat with one of our representatives, or send an email to Consulting@QA.com to organise a meeting.

 

QA Consulting sponsors the DevOps Summit

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QA Consulting are excited to announce that we are a Bronze sponsor at the 2016 DevOps Summit. This years event takes place on the 5th of July at the Hilton Tower Bridge Hotel in London.

The DevOps Summit is a great opportunity for attendees to hear from the best DevOps practitioners, learn what works and what doesn’t and get tips to accelerate their organisations IT transformation, whilst avoiding the pitfalls suffered by others.

This year, QA Consulting will be joined by representatives from QA Learning who are happy to discuss how they can train your workforce to realise the benefits of ‘better, stronger, faster’ software delivery.

If you are attending the DevOps Summit and are interested in finding out how our services can help your organisation on their DevOps journey stop by our stand and speak with one of our team, or send an email to Consulting@QA.com to organise a meeting.

 

 

QA Consulting sponsors Cloud & DevOps World 2016

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We are pleased to announce that QA Consulting are Premium Exhibitors at the 2016 Cloud & DevOps World.

This year’s event takes place at  Kensington Olympia, London, bringing together the industry’s leading technologists and innovators, to discuss the future of Cloud Computing.

This 2016 Cloud & DevOps event will focus on the strategies, business models and technologies which can activate the Cloud, and drive new opportunities for your organisation. Cloud & DevOps World provides you the opportunity to drive your business into the digital economy, and realise the potential of Cloud Computing.

If you are attending Cloud & DevOps World and are interested in finding out how our services can help your organisation on their Cloud & DevOps projects stop by stand G10 and speak with one of our representatives, or alternatively email us at Consulting@QA.com to organise a meeting.

QA triumphs at Microsoft’s global tech awards

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UK Training provider wins Microsoft 2016 Worldwide YouthSpark Citizenship Partner of the Year Award and is named a finalist for Microsoft Learning Partner of Year.

QA has been recognised by Microsoft as the global winner of the 2016 YouthSpark Citizenship Partner of the Year award and named Learning Partner of the Year finalist.

QA were selected as the winner of its category from a set of more than 2,500 nominations from 119 different countries. The award recognises QA for its incredible work and impact in the UK – empowering young people, providing them with the opportunity to gain IT experience and training that allows them to pursue fulfilling careers in technology.

Youth unemployment remains a significant issue in the UK. Meanwhile, growth in the digital economy has created a huge surge in unfulfilled demand for IT professionals. QA’s Microsoft Apprenticeship Program is addressing this issue by providing young people (ages 16-24), who are not attending University, with the opportunity to gain IT experience that will allow them to pursue fulfilling careers in technology. Thus far, the QA-Microsoft program has placed an amazing 6,000 young apprentices into job roles in over 1,000 UK companies. On top of this, this summer QA will place its 10,000th apprentice into employment – doing its bit to upskill future technologists and support the government’s drive to deliver 3 million apprentices by 2020. QA is proud to partner with Microsoft to empower young people from diverse backgrounds to pursue their dreams and achieve more through careers in technology.

“The 2016 Partner of the Year Award winners and finalists represent the most innovative and transformative work being done across our partner community,” said Gavriella Schuster, general manager, Worldwide Partner Group, Microsoft. “It is important to recognize and celebrate the value and opportunity these solutions create for our mutual customers. Congratulations to all of this year’s winners and finalists on this tremendous achievement.”

“I am delighted that QA has been recognised by Microsoft for our dedication to helping the UK’s IT sector to address the IT skills gap”, said William Macpherson, Chief Executive QA Group. “To receive such a prestigious award for the impact we are having at empowering young IT apprentices, is a true credit to our hard work and achievements.  We will place our 10,000th apprentice into employment this summer and are so proud of the work we have done to ensure that our apprentices gain the experience they need to achieve flourishing IT careers.”

QA Consulting, The 4th Best Tech Company for Graduates!

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We are proud to announce that QA Consulting, part of the QA Group, have been voted the 4th best Tech Company for Graduates to Work For and in the top quartile of Top 100 Companies for Graduates to Work For in 2016/17.  This recognition is particularly important to us as the annual vote is run by TheJobCrowd and is regarded as one of the most prestigious and unique awards within the recruitment industry, as it’s based entirely on independent employee feedback.

Described as a the ‘TripAdvisor for Graduate Jobs’, TheJobCrowd hosts thousands of anonymously written reviews. Under the mantra of ‘No one knows better what a job involves then the person actually doing it’, these awards reveal the real feelings Graduates have for their employer, and QA are delighted to hear that QA Consulting rate so highly as a top Graduate employer.

With the volume of feedback relating to ‘great people and team ethos’, ‘fantastic working environment’ and ‘getting to work with cutting edge tech’, the feedback our people have given us reflects the ongoing effort and focus we at QA Consulting provide; a world-class working experience and a great platform to accelerate individuals careers.

Tony Lysak, Managing Director of QA Consulting, commented, “Hard work and fun is at the heart of QA Consulting.  Our Consultants go through an intense but rewarding 12-week training programme before hitting wider industry with their newly acquired skills.  It’s great to see all the hard work pay off and we’re delighted to receive the award and want to thank all our staff for working hard and contributing to our success.   QA Consulting have always valued our consultants and aim to provide them with the best platform to develop and further their career. We are giving young people the true progression route towards a successful career within the Software Development industry” He goes on to say, “The team in QA Consulting are ecstatic with our ranking and it’s a great testament to the quality and commitment of the QA Consulting team. The award marks a strong start to what is set to be another milestone year for The QA Academy, our consultants and our customers.”

About QA Consulting:

QA Consulting is a leading provider of Consulting Services to commercial and financial organisations and Government departments.  We operate a set of unique customer enablement programmes in which we provide industry leading capability in prominent DevOps, Big Data, Enterprise Middleware, App and Web Development, Cloud Computing, Cyber Security and Digital technologies.

We excel in recruiting, training and supplying our own specialist consultants within high demand by low supply specialist technologies. We provide our clients with the resources to help them be at the forefront of their industries.

DevOps Dissection – Source Sanctuary

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Welcome back to the dissection lab! This week let us travel into the realm of Source, taste the fruits of repository branching and have a cup of wisdom. If you’re ever developing software you must use some sort of version control system, otherwise known as source code management.

Source Code Management

 SCM is a means of allowing easy collaboration on a project, a whole group of developers can work together towards a common goal. Version-ing protects changes to the source code facilitating easy reverts and guards against hard drive failure. There are two varieties of SCM, client-server and distributed.

The client-server model uses a server as a single repository for source code. A developer would synchronise to that single repository in order to make changes, very simple pulling, pushing. The distributed model has a central server but every developer has a local copy of that repository on their HDD. An example of each are Subversion and Git, each with certain advantages and disadvantages.

Subversion

 SVN follows the client-server model. It is very easy to learn as at a basic level all you need to do is checkout the repository, make a change and commit it. A team of developers can pick it up very quickly with just 3 commands and anything more advanced (branching) can be incorporated on the fly. Unfortunately due to the centralised nature of SVN it requires network access. So if you’re on the move and don’t have internet access you cannot make any changes.  On the plus though newbies can pick up SVN with a really good GUI, TortoiseSVN.

Git

 Git is the absolute boss when it comes to SCM. The commands are a little more in-depth and there are more of them than SVN, with quite unfriendly error messages, but it allows development anywhere. If you had a server at home and a laptop on the road you would be able to continue working as you’d have a local copy of the repository; when you regain network access you can push your local changes to the server for the entire team. Additionally every development machine becomes a local backup of the repository, protecting against server failure. In general Git is faster than SVN anyway, it was built for the Linux kernel and can easily scale up to hundreds of developers, although as you’re checking out the entire repository you could be waiting on a long download. It’s a little unfriendly and the GUI is awful, to use Git you’ve just got to make the command line plunge (cmd is just better anyway).

 Branching and Merging Strategy

 No matter what SCM tool you go for it is best to follow some standard practices and properly manage the repository. Disasters can occur when developers are working on the same files concurrently, to counter this branching can be utilised. Branches are copies of the repository, within the repository, effectively a duplicate which allows work to be separated out. The generic idea is to preserve a master branch on the repository, this branch has passed integration tests and can be passed on to release. All development happens separate from this branch and can possibly occur across many branches depending on the nature of coding.

For instance, take a master branch at version at 1.0.0, a new feature for the product will have a feature branch created and designated as 1.1.0, while a hotfix to the master may be designated 1.0.1. During development once a branch has been completed and tested it is merged into the master, rebranding the master as that version. If the above hotfix is incorporated before the feature were completed then the new master would be merged into the feature to keep it up to date. An illustration is perhaps the best way to go:

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This is quite rudimentary and it can get more complicated if you have even more future feature branches, but as a starting platform it’s quite nice. Ideally for long term development the features and hotfixes should be periodically merged into the master anyway (at the end of sprints), this defeats conflicts early. So now this removes some of the pain with parallel development and enables easy tracking of new features and hotfixes.

Thanks for reading, tune in next time for a breakdown of Issue Tracking with JIRA!

 

QA Consulting are proud Silver sponsors of PegaWORLD

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After a highly successful time at last years PegaWorld, QA Consulting are excited to announce that we will be sponsoring the 2016 event on the 5th -8th June, at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas.

PegaWorld is a great four day event that features top global brands’ success stories, gives you direct access to the experts behind their products and connects you to peers facing similar business challenges.

We will be joined by more than 3,000 industry leaders from around the world all looking to share ideas on how to drive digital enterprise. Attending PegaWorld is  a great way to develop your knowledge and help you find new inspiration to tackle some of the most complex business problems.

PegaWorld is a one-of-a-kind learning opportunity that will allow QA Consulting to discover new ideas, share our experiences and learn best practices and new techniques. We look forward to coming away from PegaWorld having discovered the most effective uses to help us assist our customers to Build for Change. 

DevOps Dissection – Project Pursuit

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Welcome back to the dissection lab! This week we’ll be taking a look at issue and project management, primarily with the tool JIRA, developed by Atlassian.

Issue Tracking and Project Management

 When developing software you need a clearly defined workflow. Who is working on what feature, how much technical debt do you have and what business needs are of highest priority. To allow maximum collaboration it is best to try and centralise information, at best a single resource that the entire team uses to keep track of the state of the project. In particular the team I am part of uses JIRA, it allows us to visibly see the amount of work that a project requires and how all of our different roles come together to achieve our goal.

JIRA

Jira 

Atlassian’s JIRA has been around since 2002 and allows an entire team to work from a single source. Each team member has a profile and they can create work issues or be assigned jobs to do. There is a lot of transparency and traceability by using tools like this. On the main JIRA dashboard you have an overview of the JIRA instance, i.e. assigned issues; and an activity feed which displays the latest changes that people have been making. Real time reporting is fantastic.

Projects

 Say that a company wants to design a new piece of software, using JIRA they’d create a new project. When a project is created it is assigned an issue tag. This tag is a series of letters which is then assigned to every issue within that project. It allows different issues to be easily referenced across the platform. For instance a project called ‘Demo Test’ may have an issue tag of DT, an issue within that project will be assigned the issue key DT-1, another one DT-2 and so on. If two issues are related to each other you could created dependency links between their issue-keys or you could easily reference an issue on a different ticket. In order to manage projects they are broken down into a number of components, starting with epics.

Epics

An epic is a particular objective with such a level of complexity that it will require many tasks to be completed across a substantial amount of time. A general example of this could to automate testing or to develop a web portal. Long, strenuous tasks. To make managing these easier they’re broken down into User Stories.
Epics

User Stories

 Each story has a description which will state a number of scenarios which the story must fulfil, an acceptance criteria list which dictates everything that must be completed and verified for the story to be considered done and a general summary of the problem in a format like: ‘As a business owner I want to add the ability to take credit cards payments to the website, so that the customer has an alternate method of payment’. This easily says who, what and why. Normally a slightly more in-depth description will follow, here is an example of a user story I have worked on:

User stories

This particular story is part of an ‘automation’ epic and is assigned to the current sprint. Alongside this description a priority is assigned to the story and a reporter, in this case the reporter is my boss.

As a project will end up with potentially hundreds of user stories, sprints are used to bunch up stories into sorties of work. A typical sprint will last 2 or 4 weeks and as a team we decide which stories should be part in the upcoming sprint. The stories to choose from are inside a backlog like so:

User stories 2

We size up stories into who will be required and the amount of time needed. This way we try and keep a constant pace from sprint to sprint and distribute work fairly. On each story we can actually assign it a length of time which makes it easier to refine stories down and get the fit right for a sprint.

To break stories down into manageable chunk we use sub-tasks.

Sub-Tasks

In a similar vein each sub-task has a description which explains what the task is, why it is necessary and how to complete it. Every time progress is made on the task it is updated so that other team members can go straight to JIRA to check the progress.

sub tasks

Team Monitoring

From all the added organisation it becomes very easy to gleam statistics about a team from the number of user stories they take on during a sprint and the number that are completed. This can indicate if a team is committing to too much or not taking on enough. JIRA comes packed with tools which can analyse sprints and produce: burn-down charts (the amount of work in a sprint), velocity charts (the amount of value in a sprint), cumulative flow diagrams (exact issue statuses across a time range) and sprint reports (issue list). These are great in after sprint retrospectives where teams can discuss what worked well and what didn’t. This all complements the AGILE way of working, to try things out and continually improve.

JIRA goes even deeper than this but for now I hope this is enough to dig your teeth into. The best way of becoming familiar with this is to just head over to Atlassian (https://www.atlassian.com/), grab a free trial of JIRA (cloud for a quick play, server to tool around setting it up yourself) and mess around.

Thanks for reading and please join me next time for some Continuous Integ

DevOps Dissection – Welcome to the Party!

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Hello and welcome to my DevOps Dissection! My name is Ed, I’m a first year DevOps Analyst at QA Consulting and I am currently deployed at a specialist insurance firm within the FTSE 250 index. I’m here to pull apart and examine the reasonably new and growing field of DevOps.

DevOps?

The realm of Development Operations is quite new. It was born into our world during an AGILE conference in 2008 and started its teething during 2009 (i.e., it started screaming and clamouring for attention). Here in 2016 we now have a cynical child, questioning its surroundings and trying to grasp an understanding of how the world works. This cynicism is a force for good; IT practices must change. Traditionally, trying to get developers and operational IT staff to continually build, test, and frequently deliver small software changes has been like trying to perform open heart surgery with garden shears, jump leads and a car battery. You’re going to have blood everywhere from different IT teams fighting and some very angry stakeholders that wanted fast delivery, not a stagnant and dead business.

If DevOps were a celestial body you could consider it as an exciting new resource-rich planet orbiting the star of Information Technology. At its core we have a solid and defiant mass of cultural change, the surrounding mantel consists of rapid, continually flowing currents of communication and feedback, and last, the crust is a pleasant wrapping of technical implementation and know-how.

In theory this comes together to form a bridge across IT teams, aiding communication and collaboration.

Success is measured by rapid feedback mechanisms between developers, testers, management and infrastructure; fast delivery to different IT teams and the end user; and open integration, visibility and communication across every facet of development, testing, delivery and leadership. Often the means of achieving this success will involve incrementally adding automation and breaking cultural barriers between how different groups like to operate. It is an uphill march.

NB: There is a subtle difference between feedback and communication; feedback is more product-oriented (build failure, test failure) and what’s working, what’s not; communication is synchronisation between different people/teams working together.

Cultural Change

Perhaps the most challenging obstacle is trying to persuade individuals to adopt new methods and technologies which will facilitate continuous integration, continuous delivery and work practice changes – these individual topics will be covered in future.

Unfortunately human nature is a stickler for stability and consistency, or at least what someone may believe is unwavering and offers security. This makes work flow advancements very difficult to implement as everyone loves the status quo. There is plenty I have resisted myself only to find that embracing new ideas and thoughts does truly satisfy the human desire to search for knowledge. The foundation for DevOps lies in establishing a river of cultural change. In due time I imagine I’ll be writing many more blogs posts about my own successes and failures at invoking this change.

Communication and Feedback

Simply the lifeblood of a high performing agile team. Silo’ed teams must be avoided as they lead to stagnant, toxic pools. Having two teams which are dependent on one another but operate separately is a recipe for resentment and malice. Ideally, different specialisations need to be glued together in order to develop T-shaped people (people who have a broad understanding of the various stages of the software life-cycle, while having a well-defined spike in a particular area). For instance if a developer were to be paired with a tester they may distribute knowledge between themselves leading to an understanding of each other’s roles. This will be a much deeper understanding than if the development team and testing team were split apart and silo’ed. This sharing of knowledge allows communication to take place and with a little technical assistance can be empowered where feedback can be absorbed and challenged face on.

Technology

The wrapping to all of this lies in the toys which this blog will be focussing on for the next few weeks. There is a plethora of technologies which allow the right flows of information and bring people together.  Further than just communication we have all sorts of gizmos that allow for rapid, reliable, and repeatable build and deployment processes. The categories of these tools branch through: source code management, continuous integration, deployment, configuration management, tracking and monitoring, among others.

So here we are. This is my understanding of DevOps and the role it plays. We have 3 key components that combine into a formidable strategy for growth and improvement. Enforcing cultural change, opening up communication and using technology to help is the way forward for software development and promoting learning and evolution.

In my next blog I will be taking you on a journey through the different tools involved in the particular brand of DevOps I fulfil on site, beginning with  Source Code Management!

QA Consulting proud sponsors of MuleSoft CONNECT

Mulesoft_connect_banner-01We are excited to announce that QA Consulting are sponsoring the 2016 MuleSoft CONNECT Summit in San Francisco. This year’s event will take place at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square Hotel on May 21st -25th.

CONNECT is the premier conference for digital business, where CIOs, IT leaders and developers come together to exchange ideas and gather pragmatic insights on how to drive business transformation.

This years CONNECT has a great agenda in place, with over 40 breakout sessions, customer case studies, hands on labs, product demonstrations, allowing you to gain insight into the role of API integration in our top level business initiatives and get exposure to the tools to transform our company’s integration strategy and increase IT’s impact to revenue.

If you are attending the MuleSoft CONNECT in San Francisco please contact consulting@qa.com and arrange a meeting with one of our team or alternatively stop by our stand for a chat on how we can help you to connect anything, change everything.