In the 1980’s and 90’s, the business software landscape was dominated by a diverse list of cutting-edge companies such as Best Software, i2, Brock Control Systems, Mapics, Ross Systems, Infinium, FBO Systems, Manugistics and MSA (of course I could go on and on). Now long gone, these and hundreds more really great companies have been gobbled up or rendered obsolete by the rising class of ERP giants. In this article I’ll explain why history will repeat itself leading to the extinction of most DevOps tools as leading ADLM platforms continue to assert their dominance across the diverse software development and delivery automation ecosystem.

History Informs Our Future and The Evolution of ERP

You already know that for the past twenty years, most companies have leveraged some form of ERP system to manage virtually every core business processes. One benefit of this tightly integrated solution is a powerful inter-functional data flow that enables corporate agility and provides the highest level of visibility. This super-integrated architectural model has become the standard adopted by virtually every enterprise around the globe. What you may not know is today’s “ERP model” is the result of four distinct evolutionary generations that I believe help predict the next major evolution of automated software delivery.

Phase 1 – Automation
Enterprise Information Systems (EIS) – In the 1960’s, early automation systems were developed to support important individual business functions such as general ledger, inventory management, billing, payroll, etc. These systems were architected completely independently of each other and added little value to the enterprise beyond their narrow scope.

Phase 2 – Core Data Model
Manufacturing Resource Planning (MRP) – Then in the 1970’s, the idea of a master production schedule was devised so that a few of these isolated systems could gain greater visibility into future inventory and product requirements of the organization. The big idea behind the master production schedule was the creation of an open data model that could be leveraged by other systems impacted by the manufacturing production schedule.

Phase 3 – Expansion
Manufacturing Resource Planning II (MRP II) – In the 1980’s, software vendors began to build and sell off-the-shelf packages that promised “best of breed” process design. These solutions provided tightly integrated versions of the key manufacturing processes required to produce products.

Phase 4 – Business Process Domination
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) – Finally, in the 1990’s, business software vendors expanded well beyond the manufacturing scope by creating highly-integrated solutions that now cover just about every standard business function imaginable. These systems leverage a unified data model to dramatically improve visibility, consistency, accuracy and planning capabilities enterprise-wide.

What Does ERP Have To Do With Automated Software Delivery?

The evolution of ERP has taught us how natural pressures forced the creation of a unified and comprehensive “business data model” spanning the entire enterprise. Those software vendors with enough influence to dictate that data model were the ultimate winners in the ERP space.

In the very first generation of ERP (EIS), software was leveraged to deliver a high degree of automation to many business processes that were previously manual. Over time, it became clear that these newly automated processes were interconnected and the evolution towards a tightly integrated and unified data model was underway. The business objective that fueled each successive generation outlined above was the need to design more efficient business processes that increased organizational visibility and agility.

As Marc Andreessen famously said in 2011, “…more and more major businesses and industries are being run on software and delivered as online services—from movies to agriculture to national defense.” (Why Software Is Eating The World). That statement resonates even stronger four years later. Today, virtually every corporate organization is seeing the familiar pressure to deliver software more efficiently and reliably. If history is indeed our guide, any highly fragmented and/or isolated process required to deliver incremental software change will face mounting pressure to be merged into an integrated end-to-end enterprise-grade platform that can deliver improved cross-functional visibility with even greater efficiency.

Why Application Delivery Lifecycle Management Will Win

In my view, there are really only two broad solution categories in the realm of automated software design and delivery – Application Development Lifecycle Management (ADLM) and the catch-all term DevOps (which I’ve hijacked here to describe any other type of process automation that assists the software delivery process).

DevOps tools are often narrow point solutions that have sprouted from open source projects, in-house development or commercial vendors. Organizations rely heavily upon a diverse collection of these DevOps tools to help document, validate and automate a steady flow of software change along its path to end-users.

Here’s the problem DevOps tools are beginning to face: Like the EIS systems of the 60’s, fragmented DevOps tools have little or no visibility into the overall end-to-end process; however, they do generate lots of important data that is often locked away and isolated. This isolation creates a clear barrier to efficiency, visibility and agility across the software delivery process. Because of the limited function each individual DevOps tool performs, none have the gravitational pull required to define the larger data model. As comprehensive enterprise software delivery platforms emerge elsewhere, standard DevOps tools will face ever-increasing pressure to fold inside them.

Currently, Application Development Lifecycle Management (ADLM) solutions provide a platform to manage development projects, team resources and all manner of development activities. ADLM platforms also contain the “master production schedule” for every development initiative – past, present and future. The data contained within ADLM is now at the core of a quickly emerging software delivery data model and leading ADLM vendors are expanding their footprint pwell beyond traditional use cases. When it comes to ownership of this software delivery data model, I see no other solution category across the entire ecosystem with enough enterprise clout to pose a serious challenge to leading ADLM vendors.

Unified Software Delivery Platforms Are Already Emerging

Each of the five current ADLM leaders (according to Gartner’s most recent Magic Quadrant) are now racing to bring to market an enterprise software delivery platform that integrates many key DevOps capabilities.

Here’s my two cents on each…

The Giants in the space – IBM and Microsoft both have plenty of muscle and IP today. Clearly both are moving down the path toward a comprehensive software delivery platform. IBM acquired DevOps vender urban{code} several years ago and is hard at work building their developerWorks platform. Seemingly everyday, Microsoft is adding some kind of DevOps capability into its Visual Studio product suite. Still, I don’t see either vendor gaining much traction outside of their traditional (albeit very large) customer base. Perhaps more importantly, neither seem to have bonafide credentials within the super-influential agile development community and I believe this kind of street-cred (at least for now) is a must-have to dominate this space.

Atlassian does enjoy wide support among the agile community and no doubt has the broadest adoption footprint of any of the current ADLM leaders. Atlassian is in a strong position to mount a serious threat. However, Atlassian’s core product (JIRA), is widely believed to lack heavy-weight depth in the ADLM feature spectrum and it is often implemented as a departmental or “team tool”. They’ll have to develop deeper strategic planning and multi-team project capabilities to beat the rivals.

This May, software giant Computer Associates announced a definitive agreement to purchase ADLM heavyweight Rally and its agile development platform. In its announcement, CA said it intends to leverage Rally’s capabilities to “complement and expand CA’s strengths in the areas of DevOps and cloud management”. With the crucial addition of Rally, CA is now in a strong position to assemble its diverse capabilities into a single unified and enterprise-caliber software delivery platform. Now… can they seamlessly integrate all of the pieces-parts into a cohesive solution with a unified data model? If so, how long will it take?

Finally, I believe VersionOne may have a slight edge over the other ADLM vendors in the race toward a unified software delivery platform. I may be a bit biased because of my direct involvement in a joint project currently underway – none the less, here are four reasons why they will absolutely be a dominant force to recon with:

Vision: Robert Holler, VersionOne CEO, is clearly buying into the “enterprise software delivery platform” vision. He and his team have a well thought out strategy and they are actively executing against that strategy.

DevOps Automation: VersionOne has partnered with ClearCode Labs and both teams have been hard at work integrating ClearCode’s Continuous Delivery Automation framework into the VersionOne core product. This integration provides VersionOne the ability to orchestrate virtually any DevOps tool or platform and (just as importantly) incorporate all related data across VersionOne’s product suite to fee its quickly expanding data model.

JIRA Integration: VersionOne has just announced a tight integration into the JIRA platform. This integration will give them the ability to fold fragmented JIRA installations across the enterprise into the unified VersionOne platform providing a more strategic and enterprise-grade solution.

Availability: VersionOne’s automated delivery platform is available now and they are demonstrating their comprehensive solution to the eager agile community this week at the sold-out Agile2015 conference in Washington, DC.

Summary

The top five ADLM vendors are already well on their way toward developing enterprise-grade software delivery platforms that will consume many of the current “DevOps” automation solutions. Soon, development organizations will benefit from a comprehensive platform that can deliver increased efficiency, visibility and agility when compared to the heterogeneous solutions that have been cobbled together today.

This article was originally posted on DevOps.com

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    • Thendral

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