How the Next Generation of CM and ALM Solutions Will Influence the Market


In his CM: the Next Generation series, Joe Farah gives us a glimpse into the trends that CM experts will need to tackle and master based upon industry trends and future technology challenges.

CM architecture has the ability to influence the market even more so than vice versa. The complexity of CM and ALM forces vendors to take the lead in market development. But the market will have its influence, and those solutions with strong architectures will be in the best position to serve that market. Last year at this time, I identified where I thought the CM solution space was heading generally. Looking back two and three years ago, I painted a bit of a picture of what defines 3rd and 4th generation CM/ALM solutions. Over the next couple of years, we should expect to see competitive and market pressures push the industry into the 3rd generation.

So this year, I'd like to anticipate a few specific trends that will start to shape the market over the next year or two, as third generation solutions begin to emerge:  Pricing,  Ease-of-Use and Customization .

Before we do, let's review briefly the key capabilities that constitute a 3rd generation architecture.

3rd Generation CM/ALM

What features distinguish 3rd generation solutions from their 2nd generation counterparts?  This is one person's opinion on what additional features are required in a 3rd generation CM/ALM solution, so expect there to be a certain level of subjectivity. As you go through the feature list, try to envision the architectural requirements of a 3rd generation solution. If there are particular areas you wish to zero in on, look at the CM Journal January 2005 and January 2006 articles by this same author.

Administration and Operations

    • Low Administration (single administrator)


    • Fully Interoperable between Windows/Unix, Big/Little
      Endian architecture, 32/64-bit architecture


    • Low Risk, Rapid Roll-out and Upgrade Capabilities


    • Scalability to Hundreds of Users per Server


    • Platform-independent scripting integrated along with
      repository data access


    • Basic Multi-site Capability Across Entire Tool Suite
      maintaining Low Administration


    • High Reliability and Availability


    • Data Transaction Journaling and Data Recovery


  • Advanced Backup and/or Redundancy Capabilities

Configuration Management

    • Change Package-based CM Model and Processes with
      Change-based Promotion Model


    • Workspace Synchronization/re-basing


    • Formal Support of Stream Based Development


    • Minimizing Branch/Merge Requirements (e.g. thru use of
      1st Order Objects)


    • Stream-based Automated Branching/Knowledge of Branching
      Strategy and Product Road Map


    • Easy Build/Release Compares: source, changes, defects,


    • Automatic Build/Make/ANT File Generation


  • Easy Bulk-load Capability for End Users, including
    multiple Source Baselines and Problem/Feature/Change Data

Applications and Process

    • Integrated, Configurable Process State/Transition


    • Role-based data access and functionality


    • Broad set of Integrated Applications from Requirements
      Management through to Test Case Management


    • Seamless Integration of CM/ALM Applications on a single
      repository, common user interface


    • Extensive High-Level Customization: Process, GUI, Schema


    • End-to-end Traceability


  • Real-time Metrics to Support Decision Making

Ease of Use

    • Unix, Windows, Web Access Interfaces


    • Role-based Operation


    • Rapid Performance


    • Flexible Reporting and Interactive Query


    • Context-sensitive on-line help


    • Advanced Merge Operations with Selectable Diff/Merge


  • IP-based and File System-based Connectivity Capability

So with this as a background, let's look at three key trends that will help shape the CM/ALM solution market over the next couple of years:  Pricing, Ease-of-Use and
Customization Capabilities. 


The cost of ownership for CM technology, including consulting, operations, licenses, maintenance, training and customization, has been historically high.  In fact, such costs have, in some cases, been the difference between a profitable and unprofitable year.  When these costs are compared against the bottom line, it becomes clear that such costs cannot be sustained year after year, especially while other technology costs continue to drop. So pricing changes will be coming.

Open source tools have encroached on the low end CM solution space.  More to the point, they've taken it over except for a couple of significant commercial players on which enormous price pressure has been placed.  As long as they can continue to differentiate themselves from the open source solutions, they will have their market share.  But
there may also be some pricing pressure to contend with from higher end solutions.  In any event, low end CM solutions will be dominated more and more by open source solutions.

Moving up to the middle of the solution space, there are a number of older solutions and some new ones, including open source solutions, which are competing. 


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