New application life-cycle management (ALM) and testing features found in Visual Studio Team System 2010 are broadening the number of Microsoft partners that are building tools and services for the platform.

For ALM, Microsoft introduced architectural tools for model-driven development, a new approach to how Team Foundation Server (TFS) handles hierarchal work items and work item linking. The company also modified Visual Studio’s licensing scheme to broaden customers’ access to Visual Studio’s ALM tools.

“Work Items can have parents and children, and work item links can have types (e.g., a bug can be linked to a test by a ‘tested by’ link type),” said Terry Clancy, business development manager for Microsoft’s developer tools ecosystem.

Those changes, combined with increased use of Visual Studio Team System and TFS, have led to an increase in requests from tool ISVs to integrate with Visual Studio, he said.

Third parties are offering a crop of new process templates for Visual Studio 2010, Clancy said. “Process templates are an emerging space and a big ALM thing. The [Visual Studio] ALM ecosystem will bear fruit in 2010.”

Those third parties include EMC Consulting, which is releasing a new edition of Scrum for Team System; Object Consulting, which develops Process Mentor, a suite of modifiable process templates for TFS; and Ivar Jacobson Consulting, which produces a process template for Essential Unified Process.

“VS 2010 is a far more sophisticated product, which enabled us to build a far more sophisticated template,” said EMC advisory practice consultant Simon Bennett.

Microsoft is also seeing a rise in requirements management solutions from companies like eDev, IBM Telelogic, Personify Design and Ravenflow, Clancy said.

Visual Studio’s new testing features are manual testing support, lab environment management with automated test deployment to virtual machines, test case management, and UI test automation.

Odin Technology, an automated software testing company, is a new Microsoft partner that previously only supported IBM Rational and HP Mercury products, Clancy said.

“Axe is in use in a number of high-profile companies across the globe, albeit producing code for tools from other vendors, e.g. HP, IBM, Micro Focus,” said Duncan Brigginshaw, owner and director of Odin.

“We’re aiming to ship with VS 2010 for use with their new testing and coded UI features. We think MS has a different and exciting slant on the [test] market.”

Fortify Software, Micro Focus, Quest Software and most of Microsoft’s component vendors (with components that work with record and playback) are among other partners producing testing tools for VS 2010, Clancy said.

There are also one or two partners that will be integrating IntelliTrace, a historical debugging feature introduced in VS 2010, into their monitoring and diagnostics products, he added.

The very nature of Microsoft’s enhancements, such as build and release management tool integrations, custom reports, and custom templates, creates a larger “surface of engagement,” said Forrester principal analyst Jeffrey Hammond.

“Not lost on these folks is that .NET developers still seem willing to pay for development tools and services, something that’s not always the case for other application platforms.”