What are the key trends in the Application Development Outsourcing space today?
This article originally appeared in Outsource Magazine Issue #29 Autumn 2012.
There has been lots of talk about how much cloud computing will change the IT industry.
You don’t have to be far-sighted to realise the impact that cloud computing will have, and the considerable step-change the industry is about to undergo. In terms of application developer outsourcing, cloud also has a significant role to play in changing the industry.
The principal reason for this is the simplicity of cloud application services. New cloud-based apps are far easier to develop and install than traditional applications. On the face of it, this doesn’t pose too many problems and to a large extent increased flexibility and efficiency is to be welcomed. But, it also disrupts the traditional software lifecycle: requirement; design; implementation; verification; maintenance. The relative ease of development, and consequent movement away from traditional processes could lead to a proliferation of applications that have not been subject to this rigorous lifecycle and the testing that applied throughought. This could result in overly complicated, unmanageable application portfolios that are difficult to service and maintain.
Users and customers themselves will also be more used and expect to be able to “pick and choose” apps from apps stores and easily add them to their portfolio which may extend the problem of apps proliferation. These apps can themselves be easily extended outside traditional application development processes.
I see the problem being one of quality control and providing the support required to sustain and service this fast-moving environment. The role of the outsourcer will have to adapt to this change. The application developer outsourcer will need to be proficient in terms of technology, but also in understanding business processes to avoid falling into the trap of development for development’s sake. An appreciation of the wider business environment will enable developers to provide solutions not just applications.
In terms of technology, application developer outsourcers will need to bridge the gap between the old and the new. Much has been made of the current skills gap in cloud services and this is a string that will need adding to the bow. However, familiarity with more established technologies, and understanding how best to bring the two generations together harmoniously, will be crucial.
By Stuart Mills, Director of Applications Management UK, Logica