February 05, 2013, 10:21 AM — Betting that it can help agile development teams finally rid themselves of messy hand-written sticky notes, Hewlett-Packard is launching a new hosted service focused on providing easily accessible application life-cycle management (ALM) capabilities from the cloud.
"We wanted to provide an easy way to mimic how agile teams work in person," said HP's Subbu Lyer, vice president for application products and strategy, describing the new Agile Manager service. The company has also launched an application performance monitoring service in beta, called Performance Anywhere.
These services are the first in a number of hosted offerings that HP plans to introduce, services that will cover a range of development and operational management functionality. The company is focusing on making the services easy to use and procure, said Matt Morgan, HP vice president of hybrid IT and cloud product marketing.
Agile development breaks traditional large-scale software development into smaller incremental steps, allowing business managers and potential users to review the software as it is being developed. "Agile is based on short, tight iterations," Morgan said. ALM has also caught the attention of Microsoft, which offers the Team Foundation Server and Team Foundation Service.
HP's ALM group, which grew out of the company's acquisition of Mercury Interactive in 2006, already has a number of products for software project management. The difference between HP's flagship ALM software and the newly launched Agile Manager is that the new service was "written for an agile environment," Morgan said.
"We're seeing agile development largely being embraced by project teams that may not necessarily have a classic IT structure," Morgan said. Agile teams tend to be self-forming, and have little in the way of IT support. With a cloud-based service, they can procure ALM support on a credit card. It also offers a neutral location for two or more organizations collaborating on a project.
Like other ALM software packages, Agile Manager can be used to define requirements, assign developers specific parts of a project, and collect and monitor metrics on the progress that each team or developer is making on the project.
Agile Manager was also designed to do away with sticky notes, which many agile development teams use to define requirements, Morgan said. The interface has a virtual sticky board, where requirements can be posted and linked to specific work groups. Unlike traditional sticky notes, HP's virtual sticky board can be seen by all members of a project team, regardless of their location.