We had a well-attended ITKO webinar with analyst firm voke on Lifecycle Virtualization (see an archive here) with almost 200 live attendees yesterday – clearly a lot of interest in these new developments, and thanks to all who attended.

Voke_LifecycleVirtualization_forecastIn the first half, voke’s Theresa Lanowitz described her research on Lifecycle Virtualization (LV) as an emerging technology space that encompasses several major vendors and niche players in Service Virtualization, virtual lab management (VLM), cloud platforms, network and device virtualization. She predicts an LV market will come to fruition and demonstrate value for IT by 2013 — not so far off for something so new. But then again, remember how recently Cloud was a new concept?

As everyone knows by now, you can’t simply cost-cut your way to differentiation and leadership in these competitive times. Hardware and desktop virtualization made a big one-time impact on IT costs by reducing the number of Intel boxes, but now what? Is there opportunity for another field of Virtualization that could be focused around meeting customer needs?

For most industries today, your ability to successfully deliver software is your ability to deliver business value for customers. Or, as Theresa put it more simply: “Software IS the business.” Software touches everything, from sales, to manufacturing and delivery, to back end accounting and strategic planning. The ripped-from-the-headlines software failures she mentioned yesterday in banks, telcos, retail are moribund, and making headlines every day.

A couple of the more pointed questions we got during the webinar really made me think about how far we’ve come since the limits of the Rule of 3 in software development:

Wp_heads_2012“Fast, Good, or Cheap Software:
— You can’t have all 3!”

In fact, simply making strides against this rule was a main goal of our business in the very early days (around 2003-2006) when we were selling quality assurance software for complex architectures like J2EE and SOA. Hey it’s not cheap to get skilled programmers and testers for these applications, so do automated component testing earlier, save some time and money and avoid costly project failures. There was just one missing piece though: How could we move this lifecycle forward faster as software became more and more distributed, while not having access or control over so many systems we need?

Service Virtualization is already becoming a proven and essential practice, with solutions from leading vendors — and it will fundamentally reset the value equation of software development. Call SV part of Lifecycle Virtualization if you like, but it definitely fits the bill of replacing physical and manually copied development infrastructure with automated, virtual infrastructure.

This new virtual environment, whether on-premise or in the Cloud, is flexible enough to allow software development and testing activities to happen in parallel, at much lower cost and extreme efficiency. Yes we can now do Better, Faster, Cheaper – all of which enable the enterprise to deliver software that perfectly meets customer needs.

Thanks for your questions yesterday, and we invite you to recommend yesterday’s webinar archive replay now, and download a complimentary licensed copy of voke’s latest Market Snapshot overview on Lifecycle Virtualization if you have a colleague who might benefit from this info.