In today’s software-driven world, speed is of utmost importance. Companies that are able to get their applications (and/or updates ) to the market (or internal teams) fastest are the ones who truly succeed. And for that to happen, they need to adopt tools and methodologies that help them manage their software delivery lifecycle from beginning to end.

Application lifecycle management (ALM) was introduced to enable businesses to make better decisions around software development and manage it efficiently over time. However, the doubt that DevOps has killed ALM worries many. After all, it’s only been a few years since ALM was first introduced, and has been a key component of most software development projects.

So, why is there a talk that ALM no longer makes sense in the age of DevOps? Is there any truth to the claim? Can ALM and DevOps together drive software development outcomes? Let’s find out!

The Realm of ALM

Being an integrated system of people, processes, and tools that manage the application lifecycle from beginning to end, ALM is a way to track complete SDLC but far more comprehensive in scope. While SDLC primarily focuses on the engineering process, ALM includes governance, development, and maintenance of software as well.

Here’s how ALM benefits software teams  

  • Provides direction to teams, and enables them to efficiently develop the business case, plan resources, and map the lifespan of the software.

  • Enables them to save time and money by avoiding costly mistakes and unneeded features.

  • Allows them to get the software up to speed and provides the agility required to stay competitive.

  • Improves communication and helps align software objectives with business goals by integrating all systems within the software lifecycle.

  • Helps businesses make better decisions as the software progresses through the various stages of the life cycle; features like version control and real-time planning allow teams to quickly and decisively map out the app’s future.

What DevOps does?

DevOps, an outcome of the disjoint nature of software development teams, integrates the development and operations aspect of software development to drive rapid, frequent-iterations by a relatively small team. While there are other such definitions available for DevOps, essentially, by bridging the gap between teams, DevOps improves communication and collaboration between and helps deploy software quickly and safely. In addition, it shortens development cycles, reduces development complexity, detects and resolves issues faster, and drives higher engagement.

However, DevOps conventionally only takes care of aspects of software development spanning Dev and Ops. Many of the other critical development activities occur in silos at different stages, not in an integrated fashion – and is usually limited to a few teams.

This results in some problems:

1) Any application that is being developed, tested, deployed and monitored across environments offers a distinct view across Dev and Ops, and

2) Issues identified after production and deployment are rarely traced back to the requirements delivered with limited transparency of changes being planned to fix those issues.

Why the two make sense together?

ALM came into existence when software teams were still using the waterfall methodology; hence, ALM was popularly implemented as part of the traditional framework and was inclined towards taking on the characteristics of the methodology itself. It didn’t contest the separation of the application lifecycle into discrete phases — it simply integrated them into an overall system of project and data management.

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Since DevOps blurs the distinction between the various software development phases, how ALM maps into the DevOps world might not clearly be visible. However, the truth is, ALM fits just as perfectly along with the DevOps framework.

By integrating every aspect of the application lifecycle, ALM goes beyond the traditional DevOps concept, helps overcome the issues faced by the siloed nature of activities, and brings a far more integrated approach to software development. Here’s why it makes sense to use DevOps and ALM together:  

  • DevOps-enabled ALM ensures software applications are supervised well beyond initial development. Together, they bring people not just from the development and operations teams but also product owners, security, QA, testers, and platform and, infrastructure teams. When such a wide-ranging team of people comes together to develop, implement and tune software, it ensures continuous development, continuous integration, continuous deployment, and continuous testing – which are the core features of any DevOps framework.

  • DevOps, when implemented with ALM, ensures every stakeholder in the software development process understands his/her particular role and responsibilities as well as the work being accomplished by other members of the team. It provides the structure and framework needed for team members to know what they need to accomplish and how to communicate effectively with the other members of the team.

  • When ALM is integrated with DevOps, teams get a single view of the development process across the entire lifecycle. ALM has its roots in the waterfall framework, with typically defined stages including requirements, design, development, and testing. Because of that, it helps in defining the workflow for the entire software lifecycle - including tasks, roles and responsibilities that are required to support the entire software and systems lifecycle – and not just for developments and operations. This integration of DevOps concepts in each phase of the application lifecycle offers a far more comprehensive approach to software development.

  • What’s more, ALM provides transparency, traceability, and, most importantly, knowledge management and communication – across the entire product lifecycle. When used with DevOps, it allows teams with specialized knowledge to share their knowledge with others in order to successfully maintain and support the runtime systems – while making the entire software process extremely transparent. Since ALM helps to define what each stakeholder brings to the table, this practice helps improve productivity and quality and improves traceability that is critical for software development success.  

In our upcoming blogs, we will cover in more depth on how exactly delivery teams can integrate DevOps and ALM across their application delivery lifecycle.   

Get the competitive edge

As software teams struggle to overcome the daily challenges of siloed delivery, DevOps increases the level of integration by extending it from development into operations. However, ALM goes beyond this and integrates people, processes, and tools from the beginning to end - it essentially enables orchestration of the application delivery.

Together, DevOps and ALM provide clear direction to teams, speed up development, and help software teams make better decisions over the course of an app’s lifespan - allowing businesses to build better software and manage it with ease. Hence, for any successful business, DevOps is incomplete without integrated ALM; it is only when they are used together, can businesses truly boost their software development outcomes, and have the competitive edge they have been fighting for.

If your organization is driving the change, don’t choose one over the other. Organizations need both to achieve operational excellence during the application delivery.

What is your experience of adopting ALM and DevOps?