Quality assurance is critical as a change agent and a brand protector, says Theresa Lanowitz, who is recognised worldwide as a strategic thinker and market influencer in application lifecycle, virtualisation and convergence.
During the 1990s at Gartner, she was the lead industry analyst for billion-dollar-plus enterprise software company such as Mercury, Compuware and Rational and has been a trusted advisor for some of the largest software companies.
She was in New Zealand recently as a keynote speaker at the Cognizant Quality Engineering & Assurance Summit in Wellington..
"Software delivery is now part of the brand promise," she says. "The brand promise is implied in your software.
"When a website goes down (she cites recent incidents at the Bank of America and Sabre Holdings), people have the ability to move easily to another provider.
"It's getting less and less likely that people will forgive an outage, particularly if there is a security breach.
"The time for forgiveness when a website goes down is long past."
Lanowitz is a big believer in the cloud. "But if you want things to live there, you have to worry about performance and security. Everything must be performance tested -- both the cloud and the infrastructure.
"Security is a major issue. That comes back to people in the pre-production side of software."
She identifies two major problems: cross-site scripting and SQL injection, where a back door might be accidentally left open in an application or ports be left open.
"You have to have proper service level agreements with all of the supply chain players in place. It's critical to understand your supply chain. These types of problems are exacerbated in the cloud."
When it comes to the all-important quality assurance, organisations often don't make the money available.
"Quality assurance people are often not treated with parity."
Lanowitz says virtualisation is now beginning to be seen in product lifecycles. "Virtualisation is at the hub of the modern lifecycle. It reduces time and the number of defects."
"Server virtualisation has produced stunning successes across businesses of all sizes. It limits server sprawl, reduces energy consumption and means lower capital expenditures.
"The rousing success it has brought raises the logical question in the enterprise: what can we virtualise next? The answer is almost everything and anything.
"The prime candidate for virtualisation that will continue to reduce capex, lower opex and ultimately deliver efficiency through total value of ownership is the lifecycle.
"All enterprises are software companies, regardless of vertical market competency. Lifecycle virtualisation means that operational silos within IT and between the lines of business are shattered. Lifecycle virtualisation takes the most tedious, manual and error-prone tasks and fully virtualises them for the benefit of faster time to market, increased quality, greater customer satisfaction, and lower costs."
She says the lifecycle virtualisation market, initiated in 2005, is in its third generation, following virtual lab automation and virtual lab management. "We expect adoption of this essential technology to increase due to a broad mix of vendors focusing on this market."
Lifecycle virtualisation uses in the future will encompass such things a infrastructure provision, on-demand environment creation and deletion, and extreme automation. In addition, lifecycle tools and platforms will exploit the benefits of the cloud, not just make it available.