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Agile, cloud and DevOps targets for HP ALM suite updates

Jack Vaughan

As continuously evolving Web applications become the rule, continuous delivery is becoming a fact of life throughout IT shops. This Agile effort is sometimes stymied by the need to properly test new applications or bits of applications. The risk is that low-quality software gets out and causes trouble.

In response, test giant HP has enhanced its flagship test tool suite with new Lab Management Automation software that helps QA and development teams quickly setup useful test beds, even when applications and updates are still under development.

Released earlier this month at the company’s HP Discover 2012 conference in Las Vegas, updated versions of

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HP Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) and HP Performance Center can better automate the configuration of test environments for delivery on private and hybrid clouds, according to Subbu Iyer, vice president of Products and Strategy for Applications, in HP’s Software group. Lab Management Foundation Services for HP ALM 11.5 promote collaboration across development and operations (DevOps), he said.

Agile development increments can stress operations and test, and automation can help, said HP’s Iyer. “Looking at the Agile and DevOps movement, one of the things we are striving for is to allow you to infuse the pipeline with a lot of automation,” he said. “We are focused on DevOps. This is about accelerating application delivery.”

The push for a better collaboration between Agile development and downstream operations should not lose sight of testing requirements, and HP’s drive to support DevOps would do well if it clearly includes QA testers, said Theresa Lanowitz, founder and industry technology analyst at voke, inc. 

“We’ve always been concerned about the communications between QA, development and operations as it related to the line of business,” she said. “You need connectivity across the entire lifecycle; that means QA, development and operations are able to come back to business and explain what the risk is.”

Successful virtualization and simulation is a big driver of risk mitigation. Lanowitz indicated that elements like HP’s Virtual Lab Management piece can allow testers and developers to be as close to a true environment as possible, well before that environment actually exists.

Classic complaints for the crews running down a bug, of course, include the “I can’t reproduce it” remark (heard from the test side) and the “It works on my machine” adage (heard from the developer side).

Better lab capabilities can attack these issues. Lanowitz’s voke consultancy has been an early and vocal advocate of such techniques, which voke calls “lifecycle virtualization.” Lanowitz says HP’s lab capabilities are a good step toward automating lab setup and reducing downstream expenditures in time and money that can work against overall Agile development goals.

How does she judge HP’s latest offering? “It’s going to help the test professional,” she responded. “We have to see more like it.”

The company’s additional cloud support, she said, is timely. “DevOps offers a chance to rethink how you deliver software,” she said. “Cloud computing provides another way to speed up the cycle.”

Among a slew of additions to the HP suites is support for gitHub. Before there was cloud and before there was cloud Platform as a Service (PaaS), there was Git, the Web-based and open source version controlsystem. HP has made that part of HP Application Lifecycle Intelligence 2.6, a key component of HP ALM. Git is hosted by gitHub.

“Developers love Git as a tool. Git is a great example of a technology and a company that is trying to provide a different perspective on the source code management space,” said Iyer. “It brings a touch of cloud. We see it as an opportunity.”


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