The Cloud and ALM: An Interview with Mik Kersten


Mik Kersten and Heather Shanholtzer recently spoke about trends in cloud-based tools and how cloud technology affects application lifecycle management.

Mik Kersten is the CEO of Tasktop Technologies. I recently had the chance to talk to him about trends in cloud-based tools and how cloud technology affects application lifecycle management.

Heather Shanholtzer: What are the current cloud technology trends that our readers should acquaint themselves with? How will we benefit from them?

Mik Kersten: Infrastructure as a service is established and here to stay. It’s platform as a service (PaaS) where we’re seeing a lot of investment and innovation, and with that, a bigger change in how the application lifecycle needs to be managed. Whether you’re heading toward public or private PaaS, there are significant application architecture and lifecycle considerations to address due to both the changes in the platform on top of which your apps will be built, and the shift and the increased consumption of ready-made services.

Heather Shanholtzer: What are some of the challenges we can expect to encounter as more and more of our tools and services are moving to the cloud?

Mik Kersten: There is no shortage of discussion around how PaaS affects your apps’ architectural aspects like security. But what usually gets ignored is how the move to cloud and PaaS will impact our application lifecycle. By moving away from packaged libraries to composing applications from reusable services, we are moving away from a world where we control the lifecycle of our own application. That has profound implications on how we manage the lifecycle of an application dependent on those services.

Heather Shanholtzer: How do cloud-friendly application lifecycle management tools affect productivity?

Mik Kersten: What exists today is a number of cloud-hosted ALM tools from software as a service vendors.  Hosted ALM of this sort has been around for the better part of the decade.  What we are also seeing now is better integration between cloud-friendly lab environments and ALM tools, as well as provisions for parts of the lifecycle to deal with hosted services, such as service virtualization for testing.  But what’s lacking entirely is an adjustment of the ALM tools to manage a much more heterogeneous lifecycle of loosely coupled services and from a multitude of vendors and open source suppliers.

Heather Shanholtzer: How do these tools and services affect management, and what should managers do to prepare themselves for changes to governance?

Mik Kersten: The first step is to examine the lifecycle stack and stakeholders that you have today, and ensure that you have an automated end-to-end flow of information from requirements through agile delivery, to operations and back again.  The lifecycle of each major software component should be connected to the ALM as a whole.  That is the first step of preparing your application to a move to consuming cloud-based services, where your mostly static software supply chain will turn into a constantly evolving software ecosystem.  It’s that shift that’s going to change how we think about ALM.

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