The Leading ALM Vendors

U.K.-based researcher Butler Group conducted a vendor-comparison study last year and identified 10 providers of application lifecycle management (ALM) solutions as the leaders of a pretty lean pack. They are, in alphabetical order:

Aldon emphasizes process-driven software configuration and change management in its approach to ALM. The Aldon Lifecycle Manager is part of a suite of app-management tools designed to enable quick adaptation to what the company calls "the growing challenges of SOA, regulatory compliance, outsourcing, offshoring and globalization."

Borland Software Corp.
Long known as a software dev tools company and maker of the popular JBuilder IDE and Delphi tools, Borland shifted gears back in 2005 to become one of the first companies to focus exclusively on ALM solutions. Borland's goal was to change enterprise software development from "an unpredictable art form" into a manageable and repeatable business process. "Open ALM" is Borland's model for providing lifecycle-management solutions for any process, tool or platform.

CA Inc.
Formerly known as Computer Associates, CA is one of the world's largest IT-management software providers. Its product list is massive. In the ALM category, the company lists several, including: CA Unicenter, CA CMDB, CA SupportBridge Live, Automation and CA SupportBridge Self Service Automation. Probably its best-known ALM product, Unicenter, is aimed primarily at midsize and larger enterprises in the communications, education, financial services and government sectors.

Compuware Corp.
Software services provider Compuware's ALM strategy has evolved around what it calls the "application delivery management" space. Its solutions are designed to "continuously align and manage application delivery projects with expected business outcomes." Toward that end, the company's solutions address what it calls "the major stages of the application lifecycle," including development, quality assurance, service management and support.

Hewlett-Packard Co.
HP calls its approach to ALM "application lifecycle optimization." Its lifecycle services are delivered via three products: Test Factory Services, which HP calls "the cornerstone" of its lifecycle-optimization portfolio; Quality Methodology, which establishes the software test lifecycle, while also coexisting with and supporting "every existing software lifecycle approach," including object-oriented, service-oriented architecture and customer-specific approaches; and WinRunner, the company's venerable test-automation tool.

IBM Corp.
IBM's ALM offering is part of its Rational Software Suite. Rational is designed to provide lifecycle-management capabilities that work within the Rational Unified Process (RUP), a framework for applying iterative business processes to software development. RUP adds years of "harvested best practices" to the ALM picture, providing, IBM says, "the continuous visibility and control that organizations need to effectively govern the business process of software and systems delivery."

Microsoft's entry in the ALM race comes in the form of its Visual Studio Team System (VSTS) 2008. The company describes VSTS as an integrated ALM solution that combines tools, processes and guidance "to help everyone on the team improve their skills and work more effectively together." VSTS is designed to facilitate collaboration and communication among team members and business stakeholders, to ensure software quality "at every step of the application lifecycle" and to provide visibility into project activity. Microsoft's approach to ALM also involves third-party developers-more than 200 of them, the company says-who enhance VSTS's capabilities.

MKS Inc.
MKS was one of the first companies to offer an end-to-end ALM platform. Today the company is one of the top ALM vendors. It provides ALM in the form of a single solution and architecture: Integrity for Application Lifecycle Management. Its flagship solution is designed to extend process and control across each stage of the app lifecycle, and it's built to span all major enterprise applications, platforms, locations and players, the company says.

Polarion Software GmbH
This German company's products are based on its Live ALM Technology. The company's product family is based on an integrated, real-time ALM platform. It's a Web-based solution designed to provide traceability and transparency on ALM activities via a portal. The platform is built on open source frameworks such as Subversion, Apache and Eclipse. The company offers a family of products that includes Polarion ALM, which is offered in Enterprise, Pro and Community editions.

Serena Software Inc.
One of the leading ALM vendors, Serena's ALM software and services are aimed at large enterprises. According to the company, its solutions are designed to "synchronize and automate the relationships and dependencies among development steps" from requirements to modeling, development, build, test and deployment. Its list of ALM solutions includes a process-centric product called Dimensions, a portfolio and project integrator called Mariner and a business mashup tool for synchronizing communication and collaboration among distributed dev teams.

-- J.K.W.
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