Application Lifecycle Management (ALM)
Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) is the amalgamation of business management and software development. Its aim is to increase productivity, improve the cooperation between all parties involved, and boost quality. Application Lifecycle Management comprises application planning, development, further development and maintenance as well as user support. An important aspect of ALM, above all with regard to the regulator's ever-increasing influence, is comprehensibility and traceabilty, from requirements specification across the entire development process all the way to commissioning.
Application Lifecycle Management means more than merely developing the application; it encompasses a solution’s entire life cycle. When does an application’s life begin? Not only at the development stage, but much earlier, when it is still only a business idea. And when does an application’s life end? Again, it is not at the development stage, but only after the application has been withdrawn from use, which often means many years after its development started.
The many aspects of Application Lifecycle Management necessitate a company-wide strategy. Since there are hardly any company divisions not concerned by ALM, implementing the strategy requires a company-wide solution regarding the deployment of ALM products.
When it comes to using Application Lifecycle Management on software products, the question arises whether open-source or commercial products should be given preference. Another question is whether an integrated solution covers all essential aspects, or if using and integrating individual components may be the better solution. Questions, the answers to which should not be left to chance, and which are of strategic importance.
ALM using Open-Source Products
Users employing open-source products will seek the best application for each respective company division. The advantage of choosing such a “best-of-breed strategy” is having applications that are tailored and that can be adapted exactly to the specific needs of a given department or division. The downsides lie in the considerable expenditure associated with finding and assessing suitable applications, in a heterogeneous IT environment potentially involving systems integration cost (for interfaces linking the applications), and in the cost of maintaining individual subsystems.
Microsoft AND ALMFor many years, Microsoft had been unable or unwilling to offer an integrated ALM solution, and their stand-alone solutions were no match in many respects to what the competition had on the market. Then, in 2005, Microsoft launched their first real integrated ALM product called Visual Studio Team System (VSTS). In the years that followed, this all-in-one solution firmly established itself in the market.
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