Taming enterprise software development life cycles was the focus of a keynote speech from Theresa Lanowitz, given today at the SDLC Acceleration Summit in San Francisco.

“One of the things we believe is that you have to have parity between development, Q/A, operations and the business interests, so that they are all tied to the line of business,” she said. “Q/A is there for really understanding risk, so the line of business can make that call on an acceptable level of risk for software. The business side has to be responsible for the profit and loss because the software is you business. The more line-of-business participation, the better.”

Lanowitz, founder of analyst firm Voke, went on to say that the future of the software development life cycle (SDLC) is a virtualized one. The hot topic at the SDLC Acceleration Summit, she said, was “bringing virtualization to pre-production, to development and test. What we believe at Voke is that virtualization is really the hub of the modern life cycle. Bringing virtualization to the pre-production side: service virtualization, virtualized labs, virtualized networks. That means not testing just the application in isolation. You’re testing how that application is going to run on that network.”

(Related: Virtualization and the SDLC)

Christine Eliseev, founder and managing partner at QMAT Solutions (a staffing and recruiting firm), echoed Lanowitz by stating the importance of service virtualization for increasing the velocity of an agile team. But she also said that even with a perfect process, without the proper metrics and understanding of the SDLC, velocity can still be elusive.

“What is the yardstick you’re measuring against, and how do you translate that metric into something meaningful for your business?” said Eliseev. “There’s number of defects, but it doesn’t really tell you anything; it’s just a static number. You have to ask, ‘What does this mean for the business?’ I think, on the measurement side, it’s not what you’re measuring, it’s how you’re measuring it.”

Charles Griffith, cofounder of AwayForce Labs, said that actually acting on these metrics requires some serious planning and thought, however. Changing the culture of your development team isn’t just about changing the rules.

“If you try to do something top down, you will fail,” he said. “I think quality is built in from the ground up. Everyone knows about Test-Driven Development, but don’t be a purist: steal what works and adapt it to your culture. Start with the right culture. The right culture is to have the best code. Make those good people do code review; make them mentors. You’re going to find tools that allow you to get better in isolation. You can take a code review and focus on the right things, like logic, not where to put your braces. As an organization, value the right things. The last thing to look at is the bumper of the competition.”

Peter Coffee, vice president of strategic research at Salesforce.com, said that the SDLC has drastically changed the nature of IT. “If you got into IT because you didn’t like dealing with people…” he joked during a panel discussion. The inference was that a great deal of SDLC management is, in fact, managing people, not code.

And like people, the SDLC itself is prone to change over time, said Lanowitz. “I think the really interesting thing with the SDLC is that it is a fluid and dynamic thing. Once you figure things, out the only thing that is certain is that things will change again. The only thing that’s certain to change is that there needs to be far more involvement with [the] line of business, regardless of your industry. You’re a software developer, and the industry is being driven by what you’re deploying and developing.”