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February 20, 2007

Application lifecycle management making a difference

Over the years, the Standish Group CHAOS reports on software project success rates are often quoted in support of the rather dismal track record in software development, particularly in large-scale mega-projects. However, the latest report is quoted in the press foreseeing failure rates at half those experienced a decade ago.

By CBR Staff Writer

This period has seen a number of major changes in software development: open source software projects; the Agile development movement; and advances in tooling, notably application lifecycle management (ALM) tools.

ALM spans project inception and business case to requirements definition and specification, architectural design, detailed design, construction, testing, build and deployment, through to production performance management. Throughout this lifecycle, three disciplines are active at each stage: project (portfolio) management, requirements management, and change and configuration management (CCM).

As the art of ALM matures, we are witnessing two areas of focus by the leading vendors in this space: integration of ALM segment tools, and improved support for quality processes. Vendors such as Borland, Compuware, IBM, MKS, Serena, and Telelogic all emphasize integration, and Serena is also backing an Eclipse project, Application Lifecycle Framework (ALF) for integrating ALM tools around the Eclipse platform.

ALF is beginning to attract support, for example Aldon and Compuware have joined the project, and a number of point solution vendors, including AccuRev and IBM Rational BuildForge, are among the 16 project members. Eclipse is a natural platform for Java development. For .NET developers the Microsoft Visual Studio Team System provides a platform for ALM, with a number of vendors providing plug-ins.

In the area of quality processes, Borland has just launched a new product, Gauntlet, to sit within its test software portfolio. Gauntlet is a continuous build and test automation system that integrates with Borland’s StarTeam and a host of third-party CCM tools. This openness is part of Borland’s new Open ALM approach, which also dispenses with the Software Delivery Optimization naming. Gauntlet is also a key software metric reporting tool, based on analysis of the regression testing results.

Compuware has also recently launched a quality management solution (QMS), built on its test management solution, which offers process workflows and advanced metric reporting. It allows an incremental maturing in tool adoption, from basic test management to quality governance.

Adopting the right process to use with ALM is also an important step. Agile development, which for small-scale projects has historically eschewed tools, for scaling-up would be inconceivable without ALM: both Borland and IBM have process skills transfer programs. Borland can offer Agile in partnership with service providers such as Exoftware and ThoughtWorks, as well as its own capability maturity model integration consultants, and IBM can offer Rational Method Composer, the new version of the Rational Unified Process.

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For complex and/or medium- to large-scale projects, an ALM process with appropriate tooling is the best approach.

Source: OpinionWire by Butler Group (www.butlergroup.com)

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