HP Software GM Jonathan Rende on how ALM enables IT to modernize businesses faster

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod and Podcast.com. Read a full transcript or download a copy. Sponsor: HP.

Barcelona -- Welcome to a special BriefingsDirect podcast from the HP Software Universe 2010 Conference in Barcelona, an interview with Jonathan Rende, Vice President and General Manager for Applications Business at HP Software.

We're here the week of November 29, 2010 to explore some major enterprise software and solutions, trends and innovations, making news across HP’s ecosystem of customers, partners, and developers. [Disclosure: HP is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, moderated the discussion just after the roll-out of HP’s big application lifecycle management (ALM) news, the release of ALM 11. [See more on HP's new ALM 11 offerings.]

Here are some excerpts:

Rende: Over the last 25 years that I've been in the business, I've seen two or three such waves [of applications refresh] happen. Every seven to 10 years, the right combination of process and technology changes come along, and it becomes economically the right thing to do for an IT organization to take a fresh look at their application portfolio.

What’s different now than in the previous couple of cycles is that there is no lack of business applications out there. With those kind of impacts and requirements and responsibilities on the business, the agility and innovation of an application, is now synonymous with the agility and innovation of the applications themselves in the business.

It’s not really the case that the people building, provisioning, testing, and defining the applications are lacking or don’t know what they're doing. It’s mostly that the practices and processes they're engaged in are antiquated.

What I mean by that is that today, acquiring or delivering applications in a much more agile manner requires a ton more collaboration and transparency between the teams. Most processes and systems supporting those processes just aren’t set up to do that. We're asking people to do things that they don’t have the tools or wherewithal to complete.

Lifecycle roles

Not only are we bringing together -- through collaboration, transparency, linking, and traceability -- the core app lifecycle roles of business analysts, quality performance, security professionals, and developers, but we're extending that upstream to program management office and project managers. We're extending it upstream to architects. Those are very important constituents upstream who are establishing the standards and the stacks and the technologies that will be used across the organization.

Likewise, downstream, we're extending this to the areas of service management and service mangers who sit on help desks who need to connect. Their lifeblood is the connection with defects. Similarly, people in operations who monitor applications today need to be linked into all the information coming upstream along with those dealing with change and new releases happening all the time.

[ALM advances] extend upstream much further to a whole group of people -- and also downstream to a whole group of audiences.

Number one, they need to be able to share important information. There’s so much change that happens from the time an application project or program begins to the time that it gets delivered. There are a lot of changing requirements, changing learnings from a development perspective, problems that are found that need to be corrected.

All of that needs to be very flexible and iterative. You need those teams to be able to work together in very short cycles, so that they can effectively deliver, not only on time, but many times even more quickly than they did in the past. That’s what’s needed in an organization.

On top of that, there isn’t a single IT organization in the world that doesn’t have a mixed environment, from a technology perspective. Most organizations don’t choose just Visual Studio to write their applications in -- or just Java. Many have a combination of either of those, or both of those, along with packaged applications off-the-shelf.

So, one of the big requirements is heterogeneity for those applications, and the management of those applications from a lifecycle approach should be accommodating of any environment. That’s a big part of what we do.

You have to be able to maintain and manage all of the information in one place, so that it can be linked, and so you can draw the right, important information in understanding how one activity affects another.

But that process, that information that you link, has to be independent of specific technology stacks. We believe that, over the past few years, not only have we created that in our quality solutions, in our performance solutions, but now we have added to that with our ALM 11 release -- the same concepts but in a much broader sense.

Integrating to other environments

B
y bringing together those core roles that I mentioned before, we've been able to do that from a requirements perspective, independent of [deployment] stack -- and from a development environment. We integrate to other environments, whether it’s a Microsoft platform, a Java platform, or from CollabNet. The use-cases that we've supported work in all of those environments very tightly -- between requirements and tests -- and pull that information all together in one place.

A business analyst or a subject matter expert who is generating requirements, captures all that information from what he hears of what’s needed, the business processes that need to built, the application, and the way it should work. He captures all of that information, and it needs to reside in one single place. However, if I'm a developer, I need to work off of a list of a set of tasks that build to those requirements.

It’s important that I have a link to that. It’s important that my priorities that I put in place then map to the business needs of those requirements. At the same time, if I'm in quality-, performance-, and security-assurance, I also need to understand the priority of those.

So, while those requirements will fit in one place, they'll change and they'll evolve. I need to be able to understand how that impacts my test plans that I am building.

If you look at some of the statistics that are thrown around from third parties that do this research on an annual basis: In almost two-thirds of projects today, application projects still fail. Then, you look at what benefits can be put in place, if you put together the right kind of an approach, system, and automation that supports that approach.

Cutting cost of delivery

W
e're seeing organizations similarly cut the cost of releasing an application, that whole delivery process -- cut the cost of delivery in half. And, that’s not to mention side benefits that really have a far more reaching impact later on, identifying and eliminating on creation up to 80 percent of the defects that would typically be found in production.

With ALM 11, we're already seeing returns where organizations are able to cut the delivery time, the time from the inception of the project to the actual release of that project, by 50 percent.

As a lot of folks who are close to this will know, finding a defect in production can be up to 500 times more expensive to fix than if you address it when it’s created during the development and the test process. Some really huge benefits and metrics are already coming from our customers who are using ALM 11.

Again, if you go back to the very beginning topic that we discussed, there isn’t a business, there isn’t a business activity, there isn’t a single action within corporate America that doesn’t rely on applications. Those applications -- the performance, the security, and the reliability of those systems -- are synonymous with that of the business itself.

If that’s the case, allowing organizations to deploy business critical processes in half the time, at half the cost, at a much higher level of quality, with a much reduced risk only reflects well on the business, and it’s a necessity, if you are going to be a leader in any industry.

There are so many different options of how people can deploy or choose to operate and run an application -- and those options are also available in the creation of those applications themselves. ALM 11 runs through on-premise deployment, or also through our software as a service (SaaS), so will allow flexibility.

Deep software DNA

S
oftware and our software business are increasingly important. If you look at the leadership within the company today, our new CEO has a very deep software DNA. Bill Veghte, who came in from Microsoft, has 20 plus years. The rest of the leadership team here also has 20 plus years in enterprise software.

Aside from the business metrics that are so beneficial in software versus other businesses, there is just a real focus on making enterprise software one of the premier businesses within all of HP. You're starting to see that with investments and acquisitions, but also the investment in, more importantly, organic development and what’s coming out.

So, it’s clearly top of list and top of mind when it comes to HP. Our new CEO, Leo Apotheker, has been very clear on that since he came in.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod and Podcast.com. Read a full transcript or download a copy. Sponsor: HP.

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About the Author
Dana Gardner is president and principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions, an enterprise IT analysis, market research, and consulting firm. Ga...


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