Many businesses have been using Hewlett Packard’s Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) as well as Unified Functional Test (UFT) in development processes for a long time. With the recent acquisition of these platforms by Micro Focus, those businesses have some cause for concern, and rightfully so. It makes you wonder if Micro Focus will follow the same path of its other acquisitions by declining updated releases for the software. By studying both ALM and Micro Focus history, we predict that software delivery changes, the risks for the user, and the potential of falling behind on advancements in the software system will become evident.
Background on ALM
Since ALM’s release in 2013, and eleven additional minor releases since, countless businesses in a wide array of industries have adopted and implemented ALM as a platform for management of software. ALM allows those businesses to internally customise software delivery processes around its feature set and offers integration into environments, tool chains, and delivery pipelines.
The consistent updates on this technology -- while slow -- have allowed businesses access to ongoing feature improvements, and as a result process support becomes critical. While both ALM and UFT historically have provided process support, ALM continues to add support for newer versions of AngularJS between ALM versions 12.01 and 12.53. HPE has a legacy of continually integrating environments both for ALM and QC/UFT. Organisations and businesses have typically used Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) to manage their delivery across portfolios. They turn to ALM to fit in and support process like SAFe. While it’s not a complete integration, HPE offers documentation and support to their Agile Manager elements of ALM to align their tools with their processes.
More on Micro Focus
The business model of Micro Focus acquisitions traditionally cuts functions like sales, marketing, support, and other operations. Those functions are then transferred to Micro Focus’ centralised, highly efficient departments. While this can improve cost savings, it can also cause loss of domain knowledge and overall expertise. It can also delay products of new services and products.
If an organisation invests vast amounts of time and money in a toolset, they should have insights into the vendor’s plans for the future in regard to the products. Micro Focus has a sizeable amount of products offered, and many of them are deeply entrenched in large companies who depend on those products to stay current and relevant with other software updates.
However, Micro Focus has not been completely transparent about future plans with its products. This makes it challenging for businesses to determine which products will continue to support their needs. None of Micro Focus’ product pages, documentation, or release notes discusses product vision regarding current industry technologies or practices.
Globalisation has driven the cost of both software and its services down. Customers are now far more educated on software testing platforms than they were just a couple of years ago. Because of that customers are coming to the buying and sustaining process with more knowledge and asks. They demand more from their products and expect those products to perform well with other software systems. Software today must be flexible, more powerful, and show value dramatically faster to maintain a high adoption rate.
This now means teams have to deliver deployments at a higher quality as well. Businesses need the ability to extract data quickly on software status to make value-based decisions. To be successful, teams must streamline processes, such as Lean or Agile, while pushing process automation through DevOps, DevTest Ops, and similar ideologies. The demand for frequent releases and high quality deployments has now resulted in far past due changes to technology and development processes.
Organisations must keep up the pace; Amazon deploys new software every second! Look at the explosion of embedded systems in everything from household appliances to in-car entertainment systems. And don’t forget the mobile space, which is continuing an unbelievable expansion of functionality and sheer number of platforms and devices. Organisations have to be sure they able to keep up with this because the tech atmosphere is only going to grow and advance at an exponential pace.
Risks to ALM user
With the upcoming changes to the industry compared with client’s needs, users of HP’s products have to weigh all of the risks. The top two changes to monitor are changes in support and lack of integration.
Looking at the expected changes in support, Micro Focus combines and centralises many functions across all of its acquired products. This is when expertise with specific toolsets and domain knowledge erode away. For example, performance and user interface functional testing are extremely complex areas. Customers requiring expert-level assistance may be disappointed during support reorganisations.
Integration is a key necessity for any business building software and can often be the deciding factor to eliminate entire vendors when a company is looking to upgrade or to roll out new installations. Micro Focus’ lack of clarity on its existing product pages, particularly in regard to integration with other systems, adds to the risk and confusion around its acquisition of HPE’s tools. This is an area that shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Don’t fall behind on advances
No single company can afford to fall behind in technological advances, particularly when it comes to Agile processes. If nothing else, falling behind on advances is a critical factor in user adoption or software desolation. Management tools that can’t keep up are even riskier because organisations depend on having data from deployments, development, and security tests to make far-reaching, wide-impacting decisions. Tools that don’t adapt to enterprise-level processes, like SAFe, should not be considered for adoption or for upgrade if there is no clear indication of what long-term vision is for that software. Companies currently using ALM, UFT, or other HP products impacted by the sale to Micro Focus need to seriously consider their options.
The acquisition of HPE’s ALM and UFT by Micro Focus creates substantial concerns for any customer as a long-time user. Taking into account ALM and Micro Focus’ history, the software delivery changes, risks to the user, and the dangerous potential to quickly fall behind in software development advancements it’s worth the time to research additional continuous, automated solutions.
Scott Johnson, CEO of Zephyr
Image source: Shutterstock/MaximP