Integrated ALM tools vs. best-of-breed lifecycle management tools

For a tool to be considered a high-quality ALM tool, does it have to fulfill multiple integrated functions in the application lifecycle? Or is it better for it to be a best-of-breed tool for a specific function that can integrate easily with other tools in the lifecycle?

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This is a bit of a loaded question in my opinion. For many years, industry experts have talked about the future of ALM tools and hypothesized about fully-integrated ALM offerings. Terms like ALM 2.0 and others have been thrown around to describe this future state. In my experience, the quality of the ALM tool is dictated by how well it fits a specific IT shop’s ALM process. As your ALM needs evolve, however, the importance of integration increases, putting pressure on your ALM tooling. If you are a professional development shop, like we see in ISVs and large outsourcers, then buying best-of-breed development tools and investing in this integration makes sense, as development is a core competency and you need well-tuned, differentiated processes and supporting tools.

On the other hand, if you are an enterprise IT shop, your focus must be on speed-to-delivery and meeting the needs of the business. This means you should minimize the amount of investment in integrating your ALM tools and focus instead on buying more complete solutions that let you deliver and change applications fast with minimal risk. When you want to achieve this goal of being able to build and change at the speed of business, it is time to start looking at newer ALM offerings that provide a more complete solution with the flexibility to support both on-premise and in a cloud-based development. I like to call these “cloud-ready” platforms.   

This was first published in February 2011

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