It hasn’t exactly advanced on all fronts, but ALM is inching its way forward, albeit by a circuitous route.

SD Times asked analysts and tool makers how Application Life-cycle Management—the tools and processes designed to track software projects from conception to deployment to retirement—has evolved in the last few years and where it is headed. Three major themes emerged.

First, the central promise of ALM 2.0—better integration between point tools for requirements, coding and testing—never really materialized. Second, tool makers are overwhelmingly positioning their offerings as “Agile ALM.” Second, the term is so pervasive, it’s difficult to separate the “agile” marketing message from actual support for agile practices. What’s more, opinions vary on what “Agile ALM” really means. Third, technologies such as application security and virtualized testing, among others, remain largely outside the ALM process today, even though they are widely recognized to play important roles in how applications are developed and managed.

About that ALM 2.0
The plug-in ALM frameworks designed to let application teams stitch together different tool makers’ offerings without having to code the connections between them did not happen, said Forrester principal analyst David West. These frameworks were a key promise of ALM 2.0, a Forrester Research set of principles that outlined ALM’s future and gained wide backing from ALM tool makers in 2008.

West noted that Eclipse projects such as ALF and Corona, aimed at tool and process integration, have failed. Unless application delivery teams are working in the Microsoft Visual Studio, or Eclipse IDEs, “plug-in support is limited today,” he said.

In the ALM 2.0 era, tool makers were talking about a standard way to link together tools for requirements, coding and testing, and everyone appeared ready to take the next step, added Chris Clarke, vice president of product management for distributed software development solution provider CollabNet. “It was a heady day for ALM.”

But today there is no clear solution to tie point products together, added CollabNet senior vice president of marketing Victoria Griggs. “There is still a lot of band aids and bubble gum going on—[the process] needs to be more seamless than that.”

One emerging solution is Open Services for Lifecycle Collaboration (also known as OSLC, or Open Services). Proposed by IBM, this community effort is designed to help software delivery teams more easily use life-cycle tools in combination. West said OSLC is the only open standard effort working on this problem today. “Beyond IBM and its partners, adoption is limited,” he said.