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HP wants to help developers make apps faster

There's a new wave of application development tools on the market dubbed "agile" that aim to speed the delivery of applications and provide for a more collaborative environment. Today, HP took a big step toward making sure it is a relevant player in that market.

Agile software development is already used by up to one-third of development shops, according to Forrester, replacing the "waterfall" approach, which could take weeks or months to develop the software. In an agile world, code is written and deployed quickly, iterated on, market-tested and adjusted. That requires a whole new set of tools to manage these products.

Today, HP released two cloud-based agile application management tools -- HP Agile Manager to facilitate agile software development, and HP Performance Anywhere, which will help monitor and test applications post-launch.

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Agile Manager works in conjunction with HP's existing Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) tools, including Quality Center, and allows tasks to be assigned to individual developers while allowing code to be created, shared and edited.

One of the key tenants of an agile development model is that code should be created quickly and changed frequently. Performance Anywhere helps app owners know what changes need to be made after the app has been launched. Users create points of presence all around the world, either within their own WAN or on public cloud resources, which test how the application is running. If an error occurs, Performance Anywhere creates a flag, alerting the managers to the issue. Analytics tools even point to the potential cause of an issue -- be it an individual line of code, hardware issues, networking problems or any other variety of problems that could arise.

Both HP offerings are delivered as software as a service (SaaS), accessed through a Web portal. HP's Agile Manage is available today for $39 per user per month, with a three-month term. Performance Anywhere is not yet available, but is expected to cost $39 per application transaction per month plus $199 per server that runs the analytics software.

Tom Grant, a senior application development analyst for Forrester, says agile software development models are a transformative and mainstream model for building new software. "[It] represents not just a different methodology than [the more traditional waterfall approach], but a whole different approach to innovation," he says.

HP already has a strong reputation among developers with its Application Lifecycle Management tools, but it will face stiff competition in the agile market. IBM and Microsoft each have their own bolt-on offerings to enable agile software development. Startups that are focused solely on agile software development include Rally and VersionOne.

Network World staff writer Brandon Butler covers cloud computing and social collaboration. He can be reached at [email protected] and found on Twitter at @BButlerNWW.

Read more about software in Network World's Software section.

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