Answer

Cloud-based ALM: Does it make sense for your team?

Does it make sense to move ALM to the cloud?

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The choice of where we keep our application lifecycle management (ALM) infrastructure is essentially the same choice as where we deploy the application we are developing. And the reasons for choosing where the infrastructure lies and where the application lives are much the same.

Highly secure, sensitive information is often considered too critical to be stored in the cloud. The potential exposure if the information (or code) were accessed by the wrong people might be business ending or life threatening. So organizations with this level of concern are likely to eschew the cloud. It is worth bearing in mind, however, that cloud service providers maintain some of the most highly secure and certified environments in the world. Failure to keep them safe would be business ending for them!

When your environment is highly dynamic and you care about keeping up with the fashion du jour, you will want to live in the cloud. As a developer, I like to develop in and on the environment I am deploying to. This means I can experience the nuances and idiosyncrasies of that platform and adjust my implementation accordingly to avoid/exploit those same idiosyncrasies.

Another consideration is the size of the development team. In the beginning, when teams were small and worked on discreet pieces of technology, version control was managed by shouting across the room. When it became commonplace for vast development organizations to work on giant applications that were integrated with everything, version control was managed by sophisticated configuration management technologies that might span across six continents. But now we are back to small teams, operating more or less independently and usually colocated (or very well connected).

Giant teams with massive inventories of code need the highest speed of access possible over the LAN. Small teams with small inventories can manage with WAN speeds. By the same token, highly centralized financial systems are likely to be hosted on-premises for the thousands of staff members working in a few headquarter locations.

But the order entry system is likely to be in the cloud, easily accessible by millions of customers working independently from their mobile devices around the planet.

As you consider cloud-based ALM, think about the platform choices you make for your application. Then focus your questions on your infrastructure. You'd be surprised just how often they come out the same.

This was first published in December 2012

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