With the release of HP Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) 11 package, Hewlett-Packard is hoping to streamline the process of application development, as well as offer managers insight into how their developers are faring on any given project.
The software package combines two new versions of existing HP software applications, HP Quality Center and HP Performance Center 11.0. Quality Center can be used to test code against requirements and Performance Center tests for application performance. ALM 11 also includes, or provides easy integration to, a number of other HP and third-party development and management tools.
ALM has actually been available to HP customers for the past month or so, though the company formally announced its release this week at its Software Universe event in Barcelona.
The idea behind the package is that it can manage the entire process of developing an application in a single workflow, from the initial requirements development to the testing of the software builds.
"When a business analyst specifies a requirement in a Word document, it doesn't help the [development] team to create quality and performance tests," explained Mark Sarbiewski, vice president of product marketing for HP Software and solutions. This software provides a workspace for the business analyst, one that can then pipe the requirements to the development team environment.
"Now, as soon as a requirement gets created or changed, it triggers a whole set of actions by the quality, performance and security teams, and by the developer," Sarbiewski said.
This "unified workflow" approach also allows managers to get a quick overview of the status and readiness of the project as a whole, Sarbiewski added.
ALM can be integrated with a number of integrated developer environments, including Microsoft Visual Studio, Eclipse and the CollabNet TeamForge. The software has been tailored to work with a number of HP testing tools as well, including HP TruClient -- a non-scripting tester that is part of the HP LoadRunner 11.0 suite -- and HP Unified Functional Testing 11.0, which tests for functional defects in the code.
One potential customer, Tim Perry, who is the chief technology officer for retirement and protection at Genworth Financial, is looking forward to evaluating the software. Potentially, ALM 11 "should help us with a lot of our communications and work tracking," he said.
Perry's shop now uses Quality Center to capture business requirements in a systematic way, so that when a new application is being developed the team can easily check the requirements. The organization also used the software to map the requirements to actual test plans, and is now looking to trace how the specific builds of a software program map back to the requirements.
ALM software shows the potential to manage work teams, Perry said. The software could be used to assign work to developers or business analysts and measure their activity. "It looks like we'll be able to get that information up to the leadership much more quickly than we have before," he said
Perry also noted that developers had to be nudged to use Quality Center in the past. But the fact that ALM is now integrated with IDEs should make it easier for them to report their progress.
The software can work with a number of different strategies of software development, including the Waterfall model, and Agile programming (with an associated application called HP Agile Accelerator). The software can also accommodate user-crafted custom development strategies as well.
Sarbiewski suggested that the software could be particularly useful in application modernization projects. In a study commissioned by HP, Forrester found that 69 percent of IT decision makers have dedicated 25 percent of their annual IT budgets to application modernization, and 30 percent will dedicate more than 50 percent.