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HP Intros Application Lifecycle Management 11

The platform puts business requirements at center stage of software development, testing and maintenance, said Hewlett-Packard.

Hewlett-Packard has introduced HP Application Lifecycle Management 11, a unified system for managing the lifecycle of a key business application when it needs to be built from a variety of services running in heterogeneous environments.

HP ALM 11 was introduced Tuesday by HP's software and solutions division as one answer to the business need to transform applications into more modern sets of software services for a changing business environment, said Robin Purohit, VP of software products in the division. In effect, HP is building atop its previously established HP Quality Center for software test and quality assurance and HP Performance Center for assessing how well software performs when put into production.

A Project Planning and Tracking module in ALM 11 captures and sets criteria for declaring when a software project has met its release goals. It sets milestones for a development project and maintains real-time visibility into the work underway to see how close it's coming to the milestones, Purohit said in an interview.

The project planning system can support development, regardless of the team's approach. It will support an Agile project, a custom project or a traditional waterfall project. The system also offers three-way traceability between requirements, source code development and quality artifacts. The information in a quality measure, such as results from running a battery of function or performance tests, can be related to specific source code and requirements. The system can show the impact of defect rates on the project and chart what percentage of code has met function and performance specifications versus the parts that have not.

"Most tools still document requirements in (Microsoft) Word. We import those requirements from Word documents and use them internally in the system," said Purohit. He described ALM 11 as a platform that brings the different roles in a development project together into one setting. The roles covered would include business analyst, systems analyst, requirements definer, developer, tester and IT systems implementer.

Application lifecycle management tools already exist elsewhere from Borland (now part of Micro Focus) and IBM's Rational Software tools division. They tend to have a focus around the software developer, while HP is seeking to put the business and business requirements back at center stage.

"We've taken a focus of bringing business requirements, software development and quality assurance together with a degree of business risk assessment -- the risk of whether this software release is ready to go or not," he said.

The platform automates many aspects of manual testing, such as the need to set up data used in testing and driving repetitive tests across multiple system environments. The platform helps in the creation of performance tests, using HP LoadRunner 11.0, acquired through HP's purchase of Mercury Interactive for $4.5 billion in 2006. LoadRunner can generate performance tests for an application without developers needing to write scripts that do the same thing in other settings.

The system works with a team's existing preference in change management, configuration management and development tools.

"This is not software for software's sake. This is software critical to the success of the business. Failure is not an option. We have to inform the business whether it's ready to go," he said.

Bill Veghte, executive VP of software and solutions, said in the announcement that HP's application management platform will make it easier to deliver applications on time and on budget in a world where application services need to be drawn from different systems to serve the latest business needs.

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