The act of creating software may be going on 50 years old, but it's still an immature pursuit. A few current events in the market, however, offer indicators that the software-as-lifecycle concept may shove development practices over a tipping point to an era of intense and needed transformation.
A number of vendors and organizations are producing products, services, and methodologies that benefit the entire spectrum of software's evolution. Web 2.0 principles are having an impact. Software development becomes less a desired result and more a productive means -- something that doesn't follow a risky build-use-discard trajectory, but instead takes on the characteristics of a multiplying, adapting organism: borrow-improve-repurpose. Then keep it up so that the ongoing value of good software, in effect, never dies.
As a result, software's DNA is changing from a Frankenstein approach to a search-oriented, market-driven, natural-selection, multi-generational "success-of-the-fittest" model. If the focus moves to the process around how to assemble, adapt, evaluate, test, re-evaluate and re-use, then the process is what's becomes most important. Visibility into the entire process becomes essential. The emphasis moves from disassociated awkward steps and sequences of white-knuckle baton-hand-offs to an anticipated series of related competencies that provide lean, mean yet changing solutions to business needs.
And while we're at defining, standardizing and refining the practices around software development, perhaps we ought to associate and align those processes with how IT departments themselves operate. Developmental and operational processes that align provide a strategic payback while cutting total costs, and allow even more alignment opportunity -- say to portfolio management, coordinated change management, SOA, and continued improvement of business-technology optimization (BTO).
So keep an eye on such market events as Borland's Gauntlet, 6th Sense Analytics, Microsoft, Eclipse, Relativity Technologies, ActiveGrid, IBM's Rational and Tivoli brands, Splunk, and HP's and BMC's deepening embrace of ITIL v3.0 and the pursuit of IT Service Management as a precursor to advanced BTO. With such activities comes the maturity of IT productivity, development, and operational quality -- not each in their own vacuum but as part of holistic best practices and the continuous drive for quality and anticipatory management.
Disclosure: Borland, HP, Splunk, Eclipse, and 6th Sense Analytics are or have been sponsors of BriefingsDirect podcasts.