A Closer Look at Application Lifecycle Management (ALM)


Application lifecycle management (ALM) is the process of nurturing a software product from the initial genesis of an idea all the way through the application’s final stages. Nearly all aspects of the software development and deployment processes fall under this overarching banner. Many organizations – especially smaller ones – engage in some form ALM without knowing so, but firms aiming towards Agile, DevOps, and Continuous Deployment benefit from a formalized version of the process.

Let’s take a high level view of ALM to see if leveraging the practice at your software development organization makes sense. Maybe it ends up helping you better organize your application engineering efforts?

Documentation and Tracking are Vital in ALM

Documenting and tracking everything related to a software application – requirements gathering, design, development, deployment, change control, etc. – is one essential goal of any ALM process. This is becoming more important throughout the industry as companies increasingly move to a DevOps model. In the past, a different team would handle an app’s development compared to its subsequent management in a production environment; now these tasks are more likely to be shared.

Additionally, the Agile methodology tends to keep developers more involved with an application after its initial deployment. Quickly making enhancements and bug fixes remains a major reason enterprises are embracing Agile and DevOps at their shops. Some form of ALM process ensures everything works more efficiently, especially when it comes to managing the overall effort.

A Wide Range of ALM Tools Exist

When looking at an ALM tool, a variety of options exist depending on the specific needs of your company. The bare bones approach involves simply using some form of wiki, where developers, network engineers, QA personnel, and business analysts are responsible for maintaining all documentation related to an application. Obviously, this offers significant cost savings compared to using an off-the-shelf solution.

For those enterprises looking for a robust suite of applications for ALM, consider IBM’s Collaborative Lifecycle Management solution. Analyzing its functionality also serves well as an example of what features to expect out of any commercial ALM software.

In an integrated fashion, CLM handles requirements management, QA, change control, configuration management, as well as project planning and tracking. The CLM suite includes IBM Rational Team Concert for the project management role, IBM Rational Quality Manager for software testing, and IBM Rational DOORS Next Generation for requirements management.

The tool includes support for the Scaled Agile Framework, suitable for companies first implementing Agile. It also provides a one-stop solution for the integration of DevOps. A robust reporting engine offers the means to analyze every step of your ALM process.

If your organization wants an alternative to Big Blue’s ALM product, TeamForge ALM is one solution suitable for companies leveraging open source applications for development and deployment. HP also offers ALM products – including a Cloud-based SaaS offering – that play well with other third-party solutions, providing a valid alternative to IBM’s one-vendor ALM suite.

Ultimately, it is up to your company to perform due diligence on either using a simple in-house ALM solution or purchasing a suite from a vendor. If you are beginning a journey down the path of Agile and DevOps, some form of ALM process definitely makes it an easier trip!

When you need additional insights from the world of software development, check out the Betica Blog for the latest from this constantly evolving industry. Thanks for reading!