Facilitating Life-Cycle Management

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2010-11-30

HP Aims to Be a Force in the Software Industry

BARCELONA, Spain-Hewlett-Packard is making a serious, concentrated push into the software business-perhaps its most serious to date-by capitalizing on its strengths while reaching out to all players in the software development life cycle. At its HP Universe conference here, the systems, software and services company launched its latest software suite, ALM (Application Lifecycle Management) 11, which represents more than two years of R&D, according to Bill Veghte, executive vice president of HP's Software and Solutions organization.

"The need for innovation and agility is key for applications today, and we think the releases we are doing-from Quality Center to ALM 11-are the right way," Veghte told eWEEK. "Our new ALM solution is platform- and IDE [integrated development environment]-agnostic."

Veghte, who spent nearly 20 years at Microsoft as a top executive in the Windows organization, said ALM 11 delivers an architecture designed to accelerate the reliable, secure delivery of applications and services. The platform automates application modernization- from requirements management through quality and performance, he added.

"The competition in the ALM space has started to heat up over the last year," said Dave West, an analyst with Forrester Research. "This HP release is essentially an announcement around the Mercury tools that came into HP through an acquisition four years ago."

HP acquired Mercury Software in 2006 for $4.5 billion in a deal designed to bring together the strength of HP's OpenView systems, network and IT service management software with Mercury's strength in application management, application delivery, IT governance and service-oriented architecture governance. Another goal at that time was to increase HP's software business to more than $2 billion in annual revenue.

But HP has far exceeded both goals. Under Veghte, HP's Software and Solutions unit is a $3.6 billion business, and the new ALM 11 solution is evidence of HP's maturity in the software field.

"As organizations begin to depend more on software, the ability to create and deliver it effectively is a key differentiator," said Forrester's West.

West cited a recent Forrester study commissioned by HP that showed that 69 percent of IT decision-makers have earmarked 25 percent of their annual IT budget for application modernization, while 30 percent said they will dedicate more than 50 percent.

"Historically, people haven't done a great job with ALM; it used to be these huge offerings," he said.

However, West added, "Most organizations have aspired to an ALM discipline but haven't been able to implement it because of the need to support lots of different teams and development processes on complex projects.

 "One interesting thing about this announcement from HP is the broadness of the offering. It's not just SDLC [software development life cycle], but it includes operations and management and other disciplines."

One Complete Solution


One Complete Solution

The new offering aligns with HP's stated plans for the Mercury acquisition, which was to combine HP's existing OpenView offerings with Mercury's BTO (Business Technology Optimization) Enterprise offerings to integrate the many building blocks of enterprise IT management into one complete solution for the entire IT life cycle-from planning through to deployment and operations.

The ALM 11 platform and software solutions are components of HP Application Transformation. Through these solutions, HP aims to transform applications and processes designed for another era, helping enterprises gain control over aging applications and inflexible processes that challenge innovation and agility by governing their responsiveness and pace of change. Application Transformation solutions help businesses and governments in their pursuit of an Instant-On Enterprise.

West, as well as Veghte and other HP officials, said there is a major difference between HP's ALM solution and ALP products from competitors such as Microsoft, with its Visual Studio Team System, and IBM, with its Jazz and Rational Team Concert tools. The key difference, they said, is that Microsoft, IBM and others treat the developer as the central player in the ALM scheme of things. However, HP does not single out the developer as king, but gives equal status to other stakeholders in the SDLC process. Beyond that, the HP platform is not tied to a particular operating system or development environment.

"With ALM 11, business analysts, QA [quality assurance] analysts, security professionals, developers and others can all go to this unified system," said Mark Sarbiewski, vice president of products for BTO applications at HP.

"We come at the application life cycle from our core competency of quality, performance and life-cycle management," said Jonathan Rende, vice president and general manager of BTO applications. "We come at ALM delivery from a core competency that is very different from others who come at it from a development perspective. We are stack-agnostic."

"We're not seeing a big, single repository story like with IBM Rational or Microsoft," Forrester's West said. "It looks to be more of a federated, integrated story. IBM and Microsoft have some bias toward their own platform. This [ALM 11] is not tied to Java or .Net.

 "What we see is that it's important to support a different repository. Subversion [an open-source revision control system or repository] is the most prevalent. HP ALM does support it [by enabling users to use Subversion instead of moving to a proprietary repository]. So what's important is the change management hub, not the repository or the IDE."

Moreover, taking a knock at his former employer, Veghte said, "One area where I see opportunity is when I'm with customers having a conversation." He explained that you can't claim that everything is Windows or everything is C# and .Net because the world doesn't work that way. "Instead of saying the unifying concept is .Net, the unifying concept is the requirement," he added. "And it can go from the start of the development process all the way to the end."

Facilitating Life-Cycle Management


Facilitating Life-Cycle Management

ALM 11 automates workflow processes across multiple teams. HP also announced several new solutions to facilitate application life-cycle management. Some solutions, such as the "Sprinter" technology, are part of ALM 11; others, such as the enhancement of bringing together Performance Center and Quality Center, are done in addition to ALM 11.

The company simplified the process of making risk-based decisions of application releases with its ALM 11 Project Planning and Tracking capability. It establishes release criteria and manages milestones throughout the process based on real-time metrics, which give the user better, more accurate information to make decisions.

HP is also fostering greater collaboration among developers, QA teams, business analysts and security teams with prebuilt integration between ALM 11 and IDEs, which provide traceability across the life cycle and the ability to manage change.

In addition, the company is helping to support rapid application delivery with its Agile Accelerator 4.0, which manages Agile development projects with predefined workflows and configurations that significantly simplify development.

Agile Accelerator 4.0 reduces business risk from application failures due to functional, performance and security defects in composite and RIAs (rich Internet applications). The new product also automatically imports business process models into ALM's Requirements Management to visualize business process flows and augment textual requirements.

HP's ALM platform provides the foundation for the new versions of the company's Quality Center and Performance Center 11.0. These solutions help simplify and automate application quality and performance validation to lower operational costs, thereby freeing up investments for innovating applications in the delivery phase, according to HP officials.

The officials also stated that ALM 11 provides accelerated application deployment by automating manual testing activities (such as setting up data and manually driving repetitive tasks across multiple environments) with HP Sprinter; improves test creation with TruClient (part of HP's LoadRunner 11.0, which tests application performance without the need for time-consuming scripting); and reduces functional application defects in both GUI and non-GUI testing with a single automated solution for composite applications, called Unified Functional Testing 11.0  (a combination of HP's Functional Test and Service Test 11.0).

"There's a rationale behind what we've done with ALM 11," HP's Rende said. "This whole platform is all about accelerating the delivery of applications from a quality and performance perspective."

"This is one of the most exciting releases I have ever been part of because it fits where the market is now and where it's going," said Robin Purohit, vice president and general manager of BTO for HP Software and Solutions.

And customers agree. Todd Eaton, director of the CTO office at McKesson Corp., a provider of health care supplies and services, is "really excited" about ALM 11, particularly enhancements such as the combination of Quality Center and Performance Center, the new ability to test RIAs and Web 2.0 applications, and the new Sprinter.

In addition, with ALM 11, consulting offered by HP Software Professional Services enables clients to reduce the total cost of testing, mitigate risk with lower defect rates, accelerate implementation timelines, and increase software adoption through expert testing practices, flexible delivery models and education services, HP officials said.

A New Direction


A New Direction

Overall, the release of HP's ALM 11 solutions and its enhancements and new features signals a key direction for the company as a force in the software industry, Veghte said.

He told eWEEK that when he left Microsoft, he looked for an opportunity to make a difference in the software landscape, and he chose HP because of the challenge and promise it represented.

Asked how big a challenge he faces as head of software in a company best known for hardware, Veghte said, "HP has advantages in delivering software long term. And for HP to become the No. 1 IT company in the world, it has to become stronger in software. I want to be a part of that."

Rende and Sarbiewski-converts from HP's Mercury acquisition- echoed Veghte's sentiments. "When we first became part of HP, we increased our investment in software and grew the portfolio and even made some acquisitions," Rende said. "The acquisitions of companies like SPI Dynamics and Fortify would never have happened if we were still at Mercury."

"One of the things that impressed me is that they knew they needed the people to help shape their software business and they've been very true to their word," Sarbiewski added.

"When Mark and I came into the company, there weren't a lot of people here like us with 20 years of experience in software," Rende said. "But now you see all the software DNA you need, even up to the top position" with Leo Apotheker, former head of SAP, as CEO of HP.

"When I look at my team, it's stronger than it was at Mercury. In fact, we've been able to rehire a bunch of people who left the company when HP acquired us because they didn't want to work for a hardware vendor, and that has made us stronger."

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