I was honored to be a keynote speaker for the first Tektronix Software Summit at their bucolic corporate campus in Beaverton, Oregon. Tektronix (a.k.a. “Tek”) is an iconic northwest company started in 1946 that is part of the newly minted $18 billion (market capitalization) Fortive company headquartered just north of Seattle alongside another iconic subsidiary, the Fluke Corporation, which was founded two years later in 1948.
Tek (and their subsidiaries like Keithley) and sister companies like Fluke and Gilbarco Veeder-Root, who participated in the Summit, produce hardware in the Professional Instrumentation and Industrial Technology markets—and they also create a vast array of software. Some of this software is embedded in instrumentation equipment. NBC has been using Tek products for each of the last eight Olympic Games, and Tek solutions was used to monitor and test the quality of video and audio content used in all of NBC’s 2016 Olympic Games production, post production, transmission and distribution workflows.
Producing software for instrumentation that is not guaranteed to be connected to a network creates some interesting workarounds in the “continuous delivery process”, and the environment is even more locked down in hardened payment systems in locations like retail fuel pumps. At the same time, many of the systems involved in running a world-wide industrial company—from managing complex business relationships to public-facing web sites—will be familiar to software delivery professionals in all domains.
My topic was “Extending an Agile Transformation with DevOps”, tying together two of the most important current trends in delivering software. One particular challenge is that one of the key tenets of Agile (as expressed in the Agile Manifesto) is the higher value placed on “individuals and interactions” over “processes and tools.” And, as anyone involved with DevOps is aware, the continuous integration / continuous delivery pipeline is generally considered the heart of DevOps. Yet there are many strong parallels—satisfying customers, harnessing change, delivering frequently, working together daily—and the most important shared outcome is delivering value to users.
One small but telling anecdote from the Summit shows how connected everyone is in our industry, particularly in this corner of the country. I mentioned the Agile Manifesto, and that one of the authors (Ward Cunningham, who, among his numerous contributions to the software industry invented the Wiki and co-created Extreme Programming (XP)) was both a friend and colleague from Microsoft’s patterns and practices team and is now a technical fellow at nearby Oregon company New Relic. And one of the Summit attendees added “and he worked here at Tek!”. Here’s a picture of Ward when we toured the Computer History Museum in Mountain View together in 2005. I love our industry.