What started as a new application development methodology favored first by independent open source developers and then commercial packaged application vendors is now making its way into enterprise IT.
The fundamental concepts of agile computing development are not all that hard to grasp. Instead of developing components of an application sequentially, all the elements and processes associated with creating the application are done in parallel. Once the initial release is completed, subsequent updates are rapid, as opposed to the massive annual upgrade cycle previously associated with enterprise software.
This is all well and good, but legacy application lifecycle management (ALM) tools were not designed to manage an agile development process. This shift in application development paradigms has created opportunities for companies such as VersionOne, which today delivered an Ultimate Edition of its namesake ALM offering. This version of ALM adds analytics, an integrated environment for regression testing and free open source connectors for integrating with applications.
One of the reasons so many application development projects go awry, said VersionOne CEO Robert Holler, is that far too many IT organizations still rely on spreadsheets or sophisticated bug trackers to manage these projects. While agile development has a lot to offer in terms of speeding the overall process, it also results in a lot more parallel development that needs to closely monitored and tracked.
Agile development is not going to replace every other style of application development out there. But it is quickly becoming a major alternative approach that IT organizations are going to need to master in a world where every application is going to delivered as a service using some form of cloud computing or another. There are, of course, a number of vendors pushing into the ALM sector touting their agile development bonafides, including Collabnet, which just moved to acquire Danube. And IBM and Microsoft are both expected to extend their management platforms as they relate to agile software development.
So the real question isn't really whether most IT organizations will be embracing some form of agile development, but rather how.