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Incremental Chunked Construction

Assume that the green monster at the top of the figure below represents a stratospheric vision of a pipelined, data-centric, software-intensive system that needs to be developed and maintained over a long lifecycle.  By data-centric, I mean that all the connectors, both internal and external, represent 24 X 7 real-time flows of streaming data – not “client requests” for data or transactional “services”. If the Herculean development is successful, the product will both solve a customer’s problem and make money for the developer org. Solving a problem and making money at the same time – what a concept, eh?

One disciplined way to build the system is what can be called “incremental chunked construction”. The system entities are called “chunks” to reinforce the thought that their granularity is much larger than a fine grained “unit” – which everybody in the agile, enterprise IT, transaction-centric, software systems world seems to be fixated on these days.

Follow the progression in the non-standard, ad-hoc diagram downward to better understand the process of incremental chunked development. It’s not much different than the classic “unit testing and continuous integration” concept. The real difference is in the size, granularity, complexity and automation-ability of the individual chunk and multi-chunk integration test harnesses that need to be co-developed. Often, these harnesses are as large and complex as the product’s chunks and subsystems themselves. Sadly, mostly due to pressure from STSJ management (most of whom have no software background, mysteriously forget repeated past schedule/cost performance shortfalls, and don’t have to get their hands dirty spending months building the contraption themselves), the effort to develop these test support entities is often underestimated as much as, if not more than, the product code. Bummer.

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  1. July 20, 2010 at 1:08 am

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