Integration - The Missing Link!
A Lost Discipline Integration has been squeezed into nothing with the rise of testing and the demands of accelerated delivery timescales. Beizer wrote about Integration as a discipline in 1984; little appears today. If there every was a clear understanding of the need for and remit of Integration as a discipline it has dissipated. This loss, or failure to grow and mature alongside other disciplines, is a major cause of large scale IT project problems. A lack of focus on cross component and service integration leads to programmes stalling and eventually to operational issues in live. A recurring theme in large scale IT systems; there are very good reasons to recognise Integration as a distinct discipline.
The two facets of Integration are:
Doctrine - Integration is collaborative; using people responsible for each contribution to the whole. The emphasis is on prevention and on comprehensive preparation in advance of critical path activities. Self sufficiency and autonomy are key characteristics of each team. The remit is to expedite achievement of the end game; not to identify issues for others to fix.
Remit - Primary Integration ensures elements that have never been combined before fit together smoothly and rapidly coalesce becoming an assembly capable of delivering service well enough for downstream activities to make effective progress. Time is the key factor as failure to integrate causes day on day slippage of down stream activities, cost escalation and downstream quality problems. Operations Integration ensures distributed operations provide acceptable live service under all operational conditions. The focus is on consistency, robustness and recoverability.
It is not Testing Testing does not deliver Integration. It can lead to integration faults being found and fixed after delivery but it does not deliver the objectives of integration.
It is not Continuous Integration Continuous Integration finds breakages permitiing early fixes before promotion. It is a prevention by elimination tool within Integration it is not the whole story.
Our Thoughts The articles in this collection represent our views and opinions on issues in professional IT delivery. Naturally the bias is towards testing and management; however some articles range further afield. Shaped by our own experiences, both successes and failures, they aim to stimulate thought, debate and maybe change amongst readers. See the examples on the sidebar to the right