How is Your Application Development Process Hurting Your Business?

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Justin Vaughan Brown, Strategic Relationships Director for CA Technologies , EMEA       

How many critical applications will be delayed, exceed expected costs and fail to deliver the required specifications for the business? That’s the question software development managers at large enterprises should be asking when evaluating their software development and testing processes. The answers for many, according to results we’re seeing from a new study by research firm Coleman-Parkes, reveal that the majority struggle to deliver high-quality applications within budgeted costs and scheduled timeframes.

The initial findings of this “Business Benefits of Service Virtualization” Study highlights the many challenges software development managers face and the options they should consider to minimize inadequate development and test results. The classic “cost, quality, schedule” triangle of software development and testing has become more difficult to achieve due to increased release schedules and demand for improved functionality. As this study details, the situation is dire for many.

Coleman-Parkes conducted this initial research in which 301 in-house software development managers from large enterprises with revenues of more than $1 billion (or the equivalent in the U.K., France and Germany) were interviewed. The results shed light on the multiple pain points these professionals experience when trying to meet the needs of their customers, but it also provides insight into how service virtualization can address several struggles, including exorbitant costs, lack of testing resources and application quality.

The results are a wake-up call. For example, the average number of releases expected to be delivered by these groups is 6.4, but nearly one-third (29%) are expected to deliver 10 or more new releases per year. That means software development and test teams in these organizations are working at a pace of nearly one new release per month. In addition, two-thirds of the respondents reported that they expect the functionality in each release to improve, meaning more code – and with it, more potential for bugs and a heightened need for thorough performance testing. The numbers add up to a situation ripe for error and missteps across the entire software lifecycle – and the consequences won’t be pretty.

For instance, 45% of those interviewed said they experience late delivery of new customer offerings. 39% reported reduced functionality as a result of constraints on their development and testing process. Perhaps more damaging, more than half (56%) pointed to a loss of reputation in the market. And again another difficult blow, 48% said loss of customers to competitors is a consequence of a less-than-ideal software development and testing process.

These numbers would be difficult to ignore for any organization dealing with application delivery at a breakneck pace, but the alternatives aren’t always realistic either. For instance, nearly half (49%) indicated that moving to Agile development from other approaches would cause them “the greatest challenge this year.” 53% identified each application transformation and application modernization as challenges. 55% face working with reduced applications budgets, but 71% pointed to customer needs as the greatest challenge. Less time for development, responding to change requirements and decreasing budgets is the trifecta many software development managers face today. 

Enter service virtualization (or SV). This new approach to the development and testing of applications – using a virtual service environment that imitates a real production environment – helps reduce costs, increase application quality and shorten development cycles. This technology can eliminate the problem 90% of respondents cited with availability of systems and applications, such as databases and mainframes, for development and test purposes. And it can reduce the manual data management effort 69% said represents a challenge with test environments, as well as do away with the high-maintenance requirements 56% cited and cut the expense in creating the test environments 55% indicated was a challenge. 

In simple terms, service virtualization allows enterprises to remove constraints from the software development lifecycle, and it enables application quality to get embedded much earlier in the SDLC, using virtual infrastructure that has been configured to imitate a real production environment. SV gives teams the power to instantly launch, configure and manage all of their system dependencies virtually, at almost no incremental cost. The benefits of such technology are not lost on these 301 survey respondents, and the potential to meet all three criteria in the classic “cost, quality, schedule” triangle is definitely too difficult to overlook.

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