Much of the information is targeted at people who are already familiar with Scrum and Agile, but we are well aware there are many people out there to whom Scrum is something to do with rugby, and being Agile is to do with being flexible (which I suppose is actually true either way).
As a relative newcomer to the worlds of Agile and Scrum, I’m realise there is quite a learning curve, and throughout my learning process I’ve come across a number of different resources that have helped my understanding immensely.
One of the more useful resources I have come across is the following video (and of course, the great free‘Introduction to Scrum’ seminar we run here at Boost), which quite succinctly explains Scrum in less than 10 minutes.
Of course, there is more to Scrum than this, and a number of different ideas and terms that you’ll have to remember and understand, but it’s a great way to get started.
Did you catch all of that? There is a lot of information being covered in a short period of time, and I’d recommend watching the video a couple of times to try and listen and understand all the information that is being shared.
A couple of our Scrum Masters here do have a couple of thoughts to add to the video though:
Scrum Masters and Projects managers aren’t the same thing
We like to user story points for estimation as opposed to hours
We do a burn-down of hours and a burn-up of story points
We think daily stand-ups are essential, regardless of team experience
Of course you are more than welcome to ask any questions you have about the video in the comment section below, or ask us on Twitter @BoostNewMedia or on our Facebook page. We’ve also included some of the key terms from the video below to help with your learning.
Key Scrum Terms
There are a few key terms in there that are pretty crucial to understanding Scrum, and for your benefit (and mine), here is a quick recap of some key Scrum terms using definitions from the video. Feel free to chime in with your own definitions if you have something to add:
Product Backlog: A wishlist of features you’d like to implement for your site/service/product, generally ordered in terms of business value.
Product Owner: Represents the users and owners of the site/service/product to ensure the right features make it through to the Product Backlog. They set the direction of the site/service/product.
Scrum Master: Makes sure the project is progressing smoothly, and that every team member has the tools they need to get the job done. They also remove any impediments to progress for the team.
The Team: A multifaceted group that gets the job done; includes developers, testers, and other talents as required.
Sprint: A short duration milestone that gets elements of a site/service/product to a ship ready state, taking prioritised tasks from the Product Backlog.
Burndown Chart: A chart that shows a day by day measure of the amount of work remaining in each sprint or release. Often has a Burndown Velocity line showing the trend of the project to help you understand if the project is going to be finished, early, on time or later than expected.
The Daily Scrum: A daily stand-up meeting (aka. The daily stand-up) with the team that asks ‘What did you get done yesterday?’, ‘What will you work on today?’ and ‘Are there any obstacles in your way?’.
Scrumology – has a great blog, and email series called the Scrum Addendum that is well worth signing up for
Simple, huh? Of course, that’s a very introductory overview, but hopefully this video makes you realise that it’s not impossible to learn, and shows you a few of the ways that Scrum can improve your development practices.
If you’ve got any questions about Scrum, let us know in the comments below, and we’ll do our best to help you. Don’t forget to subscribe to our RSS feed to keep up with our latest news and adventures, and to help you continue on your Scrum learning way.
Here at Boost we are always endeavouring to improve our processes and ultimately our outputs. The ‘cycle of continuous improvement’, if you will. This means we actively looking for new ideas to test and where appropriate integrate into our day.
Recently we have been researching the agile process Kanban and how it might integrate with our Scrum processes. Kanban is a less prescriptive agile methodology than Scrum. It concentrates on moving items through the pipeline from formulation to completion. It shares many ideas with Scrum and often Kanban teams adopt Scrum artifacts such as daily standups.
What is Kanban
Kanban is an agile methodology that shares much in common with Scrum, but it also has a number of key differences. For example, where scrum uses sprints to limit work in progress, Kanban limits work in progress by workflow state.
It’s been a busy time here at Boost, and we have just released our new web usability testing application IntuitionHQ. I’ll be writing a post about IntuitionHQ soon, but today I’d like to talk about hosting.
When we launched SonarHQ in April we decided to host on Slicehost. There were two main reasons we went with a virtualised hosting solution. The first was that we were not sure whether we would be scaling vertically (bigger, faster servers) or horizontally (splitting different functions onto different servers), and the second was the we wanted to be able to scale up and down in a fine-grained way.
Our initial approach with SonarHQ was to have 2 applications servers, 2 database servers and a utility server (for background tasks including mail). This approach gave us some redundancy and the ability to scale in either horizontally or vertically as needed. This has worked well, but we didn’t feel that the performance/price ratio is particularly good.
During our initial testing, we had IntuitionHQ setup at Slicehost in the same way. As we were preparing to launch, Engine Yard released Engine Yard Cloud. Built on top of the Amazon cloud infrastructure, Engine Yard Cloud provides a managed instance and configuration engine specifically optomised for hosting Ruby on Rails applications.
It was easy and painless to get IntuitionHQ up and running on Engine Yard Cloud – taking under an hour from start to finish. I don’t think it could have been any easier – everything just seems to work! We fired up a small instance and put through a quick series of load tests. It was evident even with casual clicking through the application that we were getting better response times. Working through the likely costs for hosting on Engine Yard Cloud, we found that we could use a 32bit, 5 ECU, 1.7GB RAM instance for around the same cost as our previous setup and get a useful boost in both performance and manageability.
One of the most significant benefits is the ability to scale vertically all the way to a 64bit, 20 ECU, 68GB RAM instance with a simple restart. Scaling horizontally is just as easy, and Engine Yard Cloud really takes the pain out of this.
Another important benefit has been the streamlining of our deployment processes. Engine Yard takes care of everything needed for automated deployments, and any custom deployment tasks are easily handled with Chef recipes. Deploying multiple application instances is easy and works seamlessly, with Engine Yard implementing a proxying system with failover across all instances without the need for a separate proxy instance (and single point of failure) – a significant cost saving. Running a seperate instance (or set of instances) for the databases is as easy as ticking a checkbox.
The image used for the instance is kept up to date with the latest security and reliability patches and is used each time our application is deployed. This gives you a semi-managed hosting system without any of the associated costs.
The margin over standard Amazon EC2 is reasonably high for the small instances but reduces to a 10% premium on the biggest instances. This is very reasonable and for us makes a great deal of sense.
The one thing that would make this much more affordable is the ability to use Amazon reserved instances. These give you a discounted hourly rate for the instance once a one off payment is made. If you know what you need and can commit to a year, this can effectively half the hosting costs.
We launched IntuitionHQ a week ago and have been extremely happy with the performance and utility of Engine Yard Cloud. We are looking forward to growing IntuitionHQ and are confident that Engine Yard Cloud can grow with us.