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ALM takes root at Microsoft



David Worthington
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November 1, 2008 —  (Page 1 of 5)
The next version of Microsoft Visual Studio Team System (VSTS) will dive deeply into application life-cycle management, shaking up the terrain occupied by more-established ALM tool producers, and could pull model-driven architecture (MDA) into the mainstream of Windows application development, observers say.

Microsoft partners, meanwhile, are heralding the plans for VSTS 2010 as an affirmation of ALM’s significance and the validity of their own offerings, though for some the nod could be a double-edged sword. The software giant has traditionally relied on third parties to seed the Visual Studio ecosystem with ALM capabilities. VSTS 2010’s built-in accommodations for ALM could threaten some partners’ tools, said Gartner research vice president Jim Duggan.
 
Tracy Ragan, COO of build management software vendor OpenMake, downplayed that concern. Microsoft is still focusing on its particular audience, she said, and “we are even more granular than that.” She said partners would have opportunities to support cross-language environments or to create solutions that work with legacy versions of Visual Studio that Microsoft no longer targets.
 
“Microsoft isn’t doing anything more than the open-source community is doing around Eclipse,” Ragan said.
 
At Seapine Software, which develops defect- and issue-tracking tools, senior product manager Jeff Amfahr said VSTS 2010 “helps validate the message that we’ve been talking about for a while, namely that the whole ALM life cycle is important and needs to be included. Since one of our key values is cross-platform ALM support, we don’t necessarily view [Microsoft’s move] as a problem.”
 
Amfahr added, however, that partners that focus exclusively on Windows in the enterprise “should be concerned.”

In response, Joe Marini, director of the Developer Tools Ecosystem at Microsoft, said the company has a rich and vital partner ecosystem around VSTS today and will maintain that in VSTS 2010. He added that Microsoft customers rely on its partners to help solve business problems across heterogeneous environments and that Microsoft recognizes their importance to customers

“This is why we include our partners early in the product development cycle so they can see our direction and plan accordingly,” he said.
 
While Microsoft has not committed to a ship date, VSTS 2010 (formerly "Rosario") is acknowledged as a major release and will coincide with the introduction of .NET Framework 4.0. Much of the VSTS feature set revolves around the use of constraint-based modeling; other changes are better source code management and new facilities for continuous testing, as well as for greater collaboration between developers and QA professionals.



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