Importance of integration in the Application Lifecycle Management – ALM world has experienced a remarkable upsurge over past few years. Tools, specific to different phases of ALM have been integrated to impart bi-directional data flow and process automation. And it was required.
Within the span of any application’s lifecycle, requirements are captured several times, tests are described at multiple places and numerous other activities are done and redone repetitively. At the end of the day, a lot of time gets wasted to figure out who is doing what, what needs to be done and many such unnecessary and redundant work which could be avoided otherwise.
These problems surface in a larger scale when a software delivery team has members from different departments, geographies or organizations. Organizations realized the demand of a tool that could solve the problems with existing ALM tools; software delivery organizations started to explore the different approaches to integration. Tool vendors came out with different varieties of integrated solutions.
Primarily three different approaches are used broadly while integrating point tools from specific vendors. The pros and cons of all these three approaches are explained below.
Point to Point Integration
The Point to Point Integration approach is ideally suited for a scenario where only two tools are connected to form an integrated environment. The USP of this approach is its simplicity; all you need to do is integrate a pair of tools and you are done. However, the complexity and difficulty of such an approach increase manifold when multiple tools are involved. In a multiple tool scenario, you need to have integrations among all the tools.
A Point to Point Integration Mesh for a 10-Tool Scenario
In a scenario where there are just 10 tools involved, an organization would need as many as 45 integrations. It is not difficult to imagine the level of complex maintenance required to manage 45 integrations!
Moreover, as each integration code is specifically customized for a pair of tools, a change in business logic would necessitate a change in the integration code. Consequentially a change in the code would require a complete cycle of development, test and deployment. This much of work is truly undesired, especially when you are contemplating a small change.
Another drawback of this approach is that it restricts you from changing tools. Let us consider a scenario where Tool A is integrated with Tool B. Now if you want to swap Tool B with Tool C, then the integration needs to be configured again which means additional expenditure coupled with extra effort. It is because of all these problems that point to point integrations should be avoided for a robust long-term solution.
All in One Integrated Solution
An All in One Integrated solution means having a fully integrated ALM solution from a single vendor. This ideally could have been the best possible solution for a software project delivery team. With all the point tools coming from one single vendor, and a closely knit integrated system, One would think that it is an ideal solution to adopt.
An All in One Integrated Solution
However, the only problem with this is that, you cannot expect every egg in a basket to be of the same standard. The biggest drawback of such a system is that all the tools are not the best of the breed in their respective categories. So this effectively means that you are compromising with quality, which might not be acceptable to a majority of organizations. In addition, getting committed to a single vendor solution may not be in the best long term economic interest of the organization.
ALM Integration Platform Solution
An Integration Platform Solution is the latest trend in the ALM integration scenario. This approach has apparently covered all bases and avoided the pitfalls that exist in the above mentioned approaches. The ALM Integration Platform is based on the middleware technology and configured around the Enterprise Service Bus architecture.
The ALM Middleware Enterprise Service Bus Architecture
The advantages of this approach are many. First and foremost, the complexity of integrations has been reduced considerably. The ESB architecture only needs one adapter per tool in the integration scenario. The ALM Integration Platform is based on a standard set of web service based APIs, thus having the ability to integrate a range of tools including internal tools developed in-house. The purpose of including the internal tools within the scope of integration is to ensure that no development effort is wasted.
Another big advantage of Integration ALM Platform approach is the fact that you can afford to alter the business rules and logics according to the needs and necessities of the use case. These rules are independent of the individual tool adapters and are configurable.
The freedom to choose the best of the breed tools for specific criteria is of considerable benefit. This enables you to pick and choose tools according to your needs and financial ability. The Analytics and Dashboard domain of ALM has been greatly benefitted with the introduction of this approach. All you need to do is collect the entire set of data in the central repository of the ALM Integration Platform. Once that is done, you can create all the required dashboards and metrics with a few clicks. The value of such extensive and cross-tool reports in a project cannot be underestimated because they give you valuable insight about the entire project.
With all these features and advantages, ALM Integration Solution has rightfully taken a giant stride. It is for all the right reasons that the popularity of a compact and well-knit integrated ALM solution is on the rise among project delivery teams.