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Study: App Maintenance Is Neglected -- at a Cost

Should you be paying more attention to application maintenance and less to application development?

The answer may be yes – especially if you're in a government agency. Government organizations score lower on application maintainability benchmarks than private sector companies, and all organizations score higher on application performance than they do on application maintenance, according to information gleaned from a new "software quality benchmarking database" produced by Cast Software.

Called Appmarq, the database, announced yesterday, contains benchmarking information from more than 500 applications coming from 70 different companies, said Jay Sappidi, director of the Cast Center for Quantitative Research, in an e-mail interview.

He said the database was developed over time as Cast analyzed applications from client companies. It gets its data directly from application source code via an algorithm that measures weighted rules pertaining to factors such as robustness, security and transferability. The database information will be available to customers through four different service models, including subscriptions and access to annual industry trend reports that will include information like the examples above. Clients can also submit their own applications to see how they measure up to industry benchmarks and best practices and determine where more resources are needed, for example.

Noting the government vs. private sector discrepancy in application maintainability, the company said it may account for a Gartner report -- "IT Spending and Staffing Report, 2009" -- that indicates public companies spend up to 18 percent more on application maintenance than do government shops.

The company also said in a news release that Appmarq indicated application performance scores are nearly 20 percent higher than application maintenance scores. It said that even though IT shops typically spend almost 70 percent of their budgets on maintenance, they usually aren't focused on cutting long-term costs by improving applications, paying more attention to projects that are more visible to end users.

Cast Software said it will collaborate with organizations such as Software Engineering Institute (SEI) and Object Management Group (OMG) to produce benchmarking reports for customers. Sappidi told this site that the company is currently validating more industry trend examples, "like the most frequently made mistakes, etc., comparison of quality across technologies, etc., which will be released along with the annual report."

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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