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What's in Store for ALM in 2011

As applications are dominating the software, computing and network spaces as of late – and significant growth in this area continues to dominate forecasts – immense opportunity is being created in the Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) space.

The software arena is evolving; with more companies moving to cloud-based applications, demanding changes in the way tools and processes for tracking software projects are managed. Here is a look at ALM trends and what to expect moving forward.

New Systems Are Adapting, Becoming More User Friendly

In the past, the standard approach to ALM meant providing all means of proper control for those involved in the process. This would often require multiple implementations and code configurations to ensure all layers were in place to manage the tools and processes involved in ALM. This approach made the process complicated and demanded a high level of technical knowledge.

Today, these processes are changing and ALM is becoming more readily available on open platforms that combine all necessary tools into one solution. One example is CollabNet and its Subversion Edge, an open-source distribution designed to make the installation, administration and control of Subversion much easier. In taking such an approach, vendors are lowering the bar for technical knowledge and saving significant time.

Moving to SaaS Benefits Users, Presents New Challenges for Vendors in Delivery Methods

The arrival of the deep economic recession in 2008 forced companies to re-examine their spending on all fronts. Cuts were often made in IT and tech spending and while a recovery is under way, spending still hasn’t returned to pre-recession levels. Companies not only want to get leaner, they also want greater innovation and moving their applications to the cloud on SaaS platforms provides satisfaction on all fronts. This movement also demands change in ALM to support the proliferation of SaaS usage.

While major vendors in the ALM space have indicated they plan to provide offerings and support through SaaS offerings, the challenge lies in ensuring ALM will operate in the cloud just as it does locally. At the same time, ALM vendors have to ensure their offerings are secure. Companies like IBM and HP have strong ALM offerings in the cloud; but to date, there are no expected standards in the industry for this delivery method, which presents challenges for those who want to emerge the leaders in this space.

Overall Changes in ALM Software on the Horizon

With such a strong focus on open source and SaaS delivery, just exactly where is ALM headed and what changes will impact the industry? The influence of virtualization and SaaS is creating more opportunity in the ALM space and lighter-weight solutions will continue to emerge in the market. All solutions will be focused on eliminating the bottlenecks that traditional implementations, management and testing create; ensuring environments can be easily provisioned and optimized.

For years, the standards in ALM dictated the tools and processes involved, offerings were expensive and the time and skill set necessary for ALM ate up much of the IT budget for new innovation. The major players will continue to leverage their strength in the market, but specialized capabilities will be more readily available – and more affordable – for those users seeking more than ALM has been able to deliver in the past.

[Photo courtesy of jdisc.]