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Application Lifecycle Management Prediction

2011 – The Year of Open Source ALM Tools?

Jessica Thornsby

The latest prediction in Mik Kersten’s blog series, addresses ALM tools.

Mik Kersten has posted the latest in his string of predictions, and this time it concerns open source Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) tools. He predicts we will continue to see growth in this area, whereas previously ALM tools have been associated with enterprise application development and heavyweight workflows. Kersten perceives this shift as evidence of ALM moving towards lean methods and developer-centric tools.

The results of the 2010 Eclipse Community Survey seem to support his claims, showing that the core open source ALM tools, when combined, have the market share in each of the three key ALM categories (tasks, versions, builds.) The survey comprised of 1,948 respondents, and although there’s some truth to the argument that those who respond to Eclipse Community Surveys are more likely to be involved in open source, Kersten argues that “this result remains indicative of a shift in application development practices and open-source ALM market share.” He believes that over the course of 2011 open source ALM stacks will infiltrate the more conservative organisations.

But, what is it that makes open source ALM so attractive? Firstly, there’s the issue of price, secondly, there’s the amount of innovation typically driven by open source developers, and thirdly there’s the ecosystem of extensions that gather around popular open source solutions. These open source communities can often create very interesting integrations. An open source license also guarantees organisations who adopt such tools will always have access to the codebase, and the option to extend the tool, should they require new features, or if the tool’s original contributors move onto a new project. Although, Kersten does warn that organisations should be wary of gaps in project management features, and lack of a single integrated open source ALM stack as, in this respect, there’s a “mismatch between both the toolset and the cultural aspects of open source ALM tools and what’s needed by the enterprise.” Although open source ALM tools are finding their way into the enterprise, he predicts it won’t always be an easy ride: “these two worlds must be integrated into a cohesive whole, especially as more Agile teams find themselves at the intersection of open source and enterprise ALM,” he advises.

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