The boundaries of what we mean by “application life-cycle management” continue to stretch and tear, like Arnold Schwarzenegger stuffed into a toddler’s jumper. While we still have to be careful about defining ALM so broadly that it’s no longer a meaningful category, it’s clear that the traditional list of functionality ― task management, build management, requirements, management, etc., etc.― is at least a couple of sizes too small. In fact, the amount of overlap with product life-cycle management (PLM) is so great that it may be increasingly hard to discuss them separately. They may be surprised to find how closely related they are, like Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito in Twins, but the connection is definitely there.
Even without PLM tugging at it, ALM is stretching to fit the real development processes it ostensibly manages. As development teams are not indifferent to what happens after they hand off their code to the operations people, ALM has been expanding to include more elements of release and deployment. ALM can’t accommodate everything ops-related without ripping apart at the seams, but it does need some alterations.
PLM is a whole different consideration. Rather than expanding the definition of ALM, it adds another layer on top of it ― primarily to accommodate the realities of embedding software in other products (cars, refrigerators, medical devices, etc.). Because the number of these hybrid hardware/software products expands daily, the urgency of figuring out how ALM and PLM fit together as part of a common ensemble has been increasing.
Everyone heard the news last week of HP making a decision that it wants to emulate IBM rather than Apple by shedding its PC and cell phone businesses. But for Application Development Professionals, what does this announcement mean for HP QC and its newly defined ALM platform?
The bad news
The investment in WebOS and Palm meant that HP was in the mobile platform business, a business that is heavily connected to developers, open source communities, and applications. That connection would have required HP R&D to gain strong relationships to the developer community and be active in making it easier for developers to build on top of its platform. Of course, there were many questions regarding whether HP would be able to connect to developers; after all, it is a hardware company, and hardware engineers traditionally ignore software, considering it an afterthought — but at least the need was there, which is always a good place to start. Now that objective has gone. Mobile developers, who increasingly are becoming the mainstay of the next generation of applications, are not a core community for HP to court. And if IBM is to be copied, then mobile will be dropped from HP’s corporate vocabulary.
The good news
Without the distraction of WebOS, HP will now increase its investment in its applications business, in particular the integrated strategy of IT Performance Suite and its supporting software solutions for IT strategy, ALM, and IT operations. This solution is aimed squarely at IT departments and the enterprise. The potential acquisition of Autonomy will only extend HP’s reach into enterprise IT, and if applied to IT performance management could provide valuable insights into the application environment.