Agile: How it became a way of life at HomeAway

A longtime user details its agile software development path

Agile software development, billed as the most contemporary way to build software, has faced its share of criticism over the years. But at HomeAway, which provides a worldwide marketplace for vacation rentals, agile has simply become the way the company's 250 software developers conduct themselves.

"It's just the way we live now," says Jack Yang, HomeAway vice president of engineering. The company has been using agile for about six years. Before that, HomeAway had development teams each using their individual methods. But the company decided it was time for unification.

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HomeAway had some developers who did not want to go agile, but the company adopted a "socialize, not evangelize" strategy, Yang recalls. No one was forced into agile. But in time, HomeAway found that non-agile teams could not keep up.

From Scrum to Lean Kanban

HomeAway has evolved from being solely a Scrum shop to also using the Lean Kanban approach to agile. "A lot of our teams that are customer-facing or traveler-facing get a lot more [requests] in the form of small changes that need to be accomplished quickly, that the Scrum lifecycle doesn't really do very well because it's usually a two-week lifecycle," Yang says. With Lean Kanban, developers can "flip out a release within a day."

For its own internal applications and services, the two-week cycle is perfect. But Yang cautions that not every adoption of Scrum or Lean Kanban will work out exactly the same.

Marketers target agile

Agile celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2010 and has endured some marketing hype. There's a feeling that when a new agile methodology gets introduced, it gets turned into a marketing product, says Larry Maccherone, R&D product owner at Rally Software, which offers application lifecycle management software for agile processes and counts HomeAway as a customer. Whenever the new flavor of the month turns up in the agile space, somebody makes money selling books and consulting, he says.

HomeAway's experience shows that agile continues to become mainstream. Enterprises and developers are opting for agile's collaborative, phased-in development as opposed to planned, rigid waterfall development. But new adopters still have their work cut out for them in deciding which agile processes to use and how to get cynical developers on board.

This article, "Agile: How it became a way of life at HomeAway," was originally published at Follow the latest developments in business technology news and get a digest of the key stories each day in the InfoWorld Daily newsletter. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow on Twitter.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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