PHP’s Andi Gutmans: 70% of fixing a bug is finding it (and we’re going to fix that)

Anyone who’s ever built a significant piece of technology knows the pain of bugs. The biggest problem? It’s not the fixing … it’s the finding.

These days, most companies are releasing software multiple times a week. In fact, according to Zend CMO Elaine Lennox, for “born-on-the-web” companies, this release cycle is several times a day. In that speedy environment, you don’t want to spend a lot of time bugfixing.

In, fact, you can’t afford to.

One of the most common source of problems is coordination between those who build and those who provision: development and operations. Different operating environments, lack of automation, and complex deployment procedures cause challenges between the two groups: 56 percent of teams have built apps that work just find in testing environments, but fail in production environments.

Andi Gutmans at ZendCon 2012

Above: Andi Gutmans at ZendCon 2012

Image Credit: John Koetsier

So Zend will be releasing a new version of its Zend Server and Zend Studio next week that, it says, will bridge the gap between development and operations. I chatted to Andi Gutmans, CEO and one of the original authors of the almost-ubiquitous PHP language, and Lennox yesterday.

“There’s a lot of pressure in companies to deliver mobile, cloud-enabled apps,” Gutmans says. “Half of teams are telling us that that they’ve missed dates because they cannot work together.”

Not working together causes bugs, and compounds the issues when bugs actually arise. According to Zend, 70 percent of the time for “fixing bugs” is actually spent in just finding the problem. Only 30 percent of developers’ time is spent solving it.

The new Zend Server 6 is designed to eliminate that 70 percent.

“The differences between development and live environments only get worse over time,” Lennox told me. “The development side doesn’t have visibility into errors in production, so the first step to fixing problems is to recreate the development environment from 3 months ago. We’ve seen teams literally waste weeks simply trying to reproduce issues.”

When that happens, people get upset. In numbers Lennox cited, 75 percent of developers say that operations is a “roadblock.” And, since one bad turn deserves another, 72 percent of operations engineers say that development is “not supportive of their goals.”

The fix?

Gutmans isn’t revealing just now what Zend is doing to solve the issue, except that Zend Server 6 will provide “the tools, processes and infrastructure to enable teams to streamline and simplify their collaboration.”

More on that next week.

photo credit: e_monk via photopin cc

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