When it comes to software development, organizations have already evolved from Waterfall approaches to more modern, DevOps-based approaches.
But an even more mature approach to software development is the software factory. Becoming a software factory may be a lofty goal but it is something that companies across all industries are considering as a means to getting quality software to market sooner.
The prominent challenges of the existing ways of deploying software are:
- One-off development, resulting in systems that aren’t designed for reuse, and neither do they make considerable reuse of existing components.
- Monolithic systems and their increasing system complexities, which make it difficult to separate individual blocks from the rest of the system, and therefore render them unusable in the context of other systems.
But, to our benefit, in addition to creating a better work environment for development teams overwhelmed by high software production goals, creating a software factory also helps in:
- Learning before the next round of software
- Applying any previously learned methods in future builds
Let’s read about the software factory concept.
What is a software factory?
Major leading technology companies like Google have set the bar in the software development process, with many updates and iterations occurring daily to fix bugs, enhance code, announce new features, and manage fluctuating scaling.
A “software factory” is an organized approach to software development that provides software design and development teams with a repeatable, well-defined path to create and update software. It results in releasing new software quickly and frequently with enhanced quality products and features, using lean code, that quickly boosts your business.
A software factory lets developers focus on higher-level technical challenges like monitoring the automated framework and enterprise data security.
The pillars of this approach are:
- A true DevOps environment, where software development and IT operations collaborate harmoniously.
- The right mindset and company culture to adopt a product mindset over a project mindset for unleashing breakthroughs that customers love.
- Skills and creativity for better problem solving while keeping in mind the implemented solutions for a similar problem set.
With these components in place, next comes automation, which is significant while creating a software development process that works much like an assembly line of software creation—hence, a software factory. Automation can apply to a number of dev practices, like continuous integration/delivery (CI/CD) and automated testing.
Typically, a software factory consists of proprietary tools, processes, and components packaged together. This package offers templates and code that you can easily arrange and process to create a program quickly—with little original code required. Of course, software engineers still must interact with the product to ensure it does what it is supposed to do and doesn’t have bugs or other issues, but when you create or update an app quicker, you have time to shift your testing left.
Why businesses encourage “software factory”?
The key drivers for a well-functioning software factory are:
- Faster software delivery – a robust, compliant, resilient software development process to deliver applications to production more quickly.
- Deploying more predictably – stored recipes, templates, and reusable code to quickly create new applications while minimizing the amount of original code needed.
- Higher levels of satisfaction and success by addressing priorities – modern software development practice producing software to better address current & future mission priorities.
- Better technology utilization – utilizing cloud native technologies to remove infrastructure toil through automation and self-service.
Components of software factories
- Recipes. Automated processes to perform routine tasks with little or no regular interaction from the developer.
- Oriented architecture patterns. Patterns to define how the design will be executed in an application and why those choices were made.
- Templates. Prefabricated application elements, code, and development features, including placeholders for arguments. Used early in a project, templates establish a consistent framework and configurations.
- Reusable code. Common mechanisms or routine functions are used for creating elements throughout the project that would otherwise be wholly manual.
- How-to elements. Development resources for those getting started with the software factory.
- Reference implementation. An example of realistic product completion.
- Designers. Tools that aid developers in more complex design hierarchies.
Software factory development lifecycle
- Problem Analysis: First, determine whether the product scope makes sense for a software factory and can be implemented successfully. Understand two key components:
- Which parts of the product can be successfully implemented using automation
- Areas where manual development is required.
- Product Specifications: Next, define the scope. Using machine learning the software factory will compare product specifications against previous products to draw inferences about the most efficient development strategies that can be automated.
- Product Design: Then, automated programs can map differences between two designs and update based on changes in scope.
- Product Implementation: The various mechanisms that can be used to develop the implementation depend on the extent of the differences in implementation between existing products.
- Product Deployment: Deploy or reuse existing constraints for default deployment and configuration of the resources required to install and execute the product.
- Product Testing: Smart automation to create and reuse testing components (such as test cases, data sets, and scripts) and implement instrumentation and measurement tools that offer important data output.
Software Factory best practices
Follow these tips for more success, sooner, in your software factory.
- Forgo tool redundancy. With templates and tools available across departments, ensure that sprawl of the same tool doesn’t exist within the organization.
- Ensure vendor management protocols are in place. Using services that allow you to automate the creation of DevOps software often means working with more than one service provider. Vendor management is essential to ensure user access, security, billing considerations, service considerations, and other elements of the relationship meet your enterprise standards.
- Diversify your development skills. With automation on board, developers can spend more time on the product itself, including exploring new languages or approaches or getting a feature or improvement done.
In order to stay competitive, organizations are trying to deliver better solutions faster, which needs them to be more agile than ever before: a vision that calls for the integration of technology, business, and people in an empowered fashion. That is why many enterprises are switching from traditional project-based software development processes towards software factories, becoming agile by design.