DevOpsUse: community-driven continuous innovation of web information infrastructures

  • DevOpsUse: Community-gestütze fortlaufende Innovation von Web-Informationsinfrastrukturen

Koren, István; Jarke, Matthias (Thesis advisor); Schuh, Günther (Thesis advisor); Klamma, Ralf (Thesis advisor)

Aachen (2020)
Dissertation / PhD Thesis

Dissertation, Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule Aachen, 2020


Since its invention in 1989, the only reliable factor on the Web has been its continuous change and diffusion into more and more application areas. The evolution was shaped by an interplay of new technologies on the one hand, and innovative application ideas from communities on the other. At a technological scale, alternation between vastly distributed and centralized architectures can be observed. The current challenges caused by the ongoing digital transformation are changing workplace settings and the adoption of the Internet of Things in industrial use cases, as for example in the context of Industry 4.0. On the Web, new technologies and device types sprawl together with new communication protocols and revised application programming interfaces (APIs). This inhibits the demanded rapid innovation cycles and creates a disruptive and unstable environment in which the requirements of endless communities must be met. Information systems infrastructure, while only partially visible and thus hard to grasp, has a strong influence on user practices. Therefore, the aim of this thesis is to stabilize the dichotomies apparent in the Web by means of an agile information systems development methodology. It supports the evolution of infrastructure through community-driven and model-based technologies to guide it on a sustainable path of continuous innovation. Our DevOpsUse methodology includes users in the process of infrastructuring, i.e. the appropriation of infrastructure during its usage. Agile development practices in software engineering, in particular DevOps, promote stronger cooperation between development and operating teams. DevOpsUse additionally fosters a stronger involvement of end users in software development processes. It intends to empower communities of practice to create and run their own software on their specific infrastructure, with the help of various newly developed software artifacts. The instantiation of our DevOpsUse life cycle model starts with Requirements Bazaar, a Web-based tool involving end users in the idea generation and evolution phases. Direwolf is a model-based framework bridging the gap between technocratic API descriptions created by developers, and user interfaces understood by end users. Faster development times require a streamlined deployment, which we achieve with the software container-based Layers Box. Ultimately, distributed development and operation go hand in hand with our evolutionary analytics platform SWEVA. The newly developed DevOpsUse methodology with its four areas, all involving end users, has been successfully validated by the transitions between three generations of technologies: near real-time peer-to-peer Web architectures, edge computing, and the Internet of Things. All technological leaps could be adequately mastered and supported by significantly end-user-oriented measures. In particular, we were able to demonstrate our methodology's capabilities through longitudinal studies in several large-scale international digitalization projects. DevOpsUse scalability and involvement aspects were confirmed in entrepreneurial and medical teaching courses. Beyond Web information systems, the framework and its open source tools are applicable in further innovative areas like mixed reality and Industry 4.0. Its broad adaptability testifies that DevOpsUse has the potential to unlock sustainable innovation capabilities.