June 27, 2023
(We recorded this from the floor of the AWS Summit in lovely downtown Washington, DC)
The good news is that today’s digital technology allows for seemingly infinite variations on a code; the bad news is malicious actors know this and change their code constantly.
One of today’s responses to this constant attack is called “continuous” improvement. Quite a simple phrase to type, but difficult to accomplish. How do you continuously improve a complex software application that is used by a federal agency? How can anyone know what impact revised code will have on dependencies?
We all know that large teams produce the application programs used by the federal government. That code may go through an iterative process and can be improved through testing. Although agile practices may be used in development, the release can be compared to the waterfall process, when the code is released – it is released in full.
That means when a security patch is included, it is released in full – with only a partial knowledge of what implications it will have on today’s hybrid cloud systems.
Today’s interview with Sara Mazer from LaunchDarkly suggests that a better approach is to release revisions in a “modular” manner. A federal agency can take 10% of the code, release it and see what kind of problems develop. Once developers and program managers are happy with the functionality, they can release it to an increasingly larger percentage.
Sara goes into the way this works – with a “feature flag.” She describes this idea as a “wrapper” around the code that allows partial release. It also allows an easy rollback. The net effect is faster iteration by being able to test one version, correct it rapidly, and then move on to the next iteration.
During the interview, Sara talks about LaunchDarkly being able to improve citizen experience with websites. She indicates that this test and rollback can allow federal leaders to try out different citizen-facing websites to determine which ones work best.
Listen to learn ways to continuously update your federal systems.
If you enjoyed this article, you may want to listen to Ep. 74, Digital Transformation of an Enterprise Financial System
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