Infographic: The Value of Software Analysis and Measurement

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Software analysis and measurement is the intelligent use of application information to improve IT investment decisions, operational performance, and customer outcomes. While the notion of measuring application development (ADM) has long been a controversial one; as application development and maintenance matures and measurement capabilities evolve organizations are finding that the ability to effectively measure application development output can lead to many benefits:

Can You Measure What You Can’t See?

There has been a tectonic shift over the past two to three years with businesses realizing that analysis and measurement of critical business software is no longer simply nice to have, but a necessity. Every CIO, CEO, and board member is keenly aware of the fact that the stakes are too high and the size and complexity of mission critical systems has outpaced traditional technological safeguards.

One + One = Three: DCG Extends Outsourced ADM Support Offerings with CAST

CAST has worked with David Consulting Group (DCG), the premier global provider of Application Development & Maintenance (ADM) support solutions for software optimization, for many years. Illustrating the maturing Software Analysis & Measurement market, DCG recently expanded their offerings to include the Application Code Quality Center of Excellence, providing comprehensive code quality and portfolio analysis services powered by CAST.

Why are there so many hurdles to efficient SAM benchmarking?

Two opposite sides
When dealing with Software Analysis and Measurement benchmarking, people’s behavior generally falls in one of the following two categories:

“Let’s compare anything and draw conclusions without giving any thought about relevance and applicability”
“There is always something that differs and nothing can ever be compared”

As often, there is no sensible middle ground.

Reduce Software Risk through Improved Quality Measures with CAST, TCS and OMG

Webinar Summary
I had the pleasure of moderating a panel discussion with Bill Martorelli, Principal Analyst at Forrester Research Inc; Dr. Richard Mark Soley, Chairman and CEO of Object Management Group (OMG); Siva Ganesan, VP & Global Head of Assurance Services at Tata Consultancy Services (TCS); and Lev Lesokhin, EVP, Strategy & Market Development at CAST.
We focused on industry trends, and specifically discussed how standardizing quality measures can have a big impact on reducing software risk.  This interactive format allowed attendees to hear four distinct perspectives on the challenges and progress that is being made within organizations directly, and also at systems integrators.
Mr. Martorelli started the discussion by providing insight into four powerful dynamics reshaping our ecosystem:

Innovation revolution
As-a-Service as a norm
Changing demographics
Rise of social and mobile

Mr. Martorelli punctuated the importance in preparing for these shifts by highlighting the impact poor quality can have on the business:

Poor performing, unstable applications
Diminished potential for brand loyalty, market share, revenues
Costly outages and unfavorable publicity

Dr. Soley from OMG built on Mr. Martorelli’s observations by discussing how standards bodies, such as OMG, SEI and CISQ, are helping industry respond to these challenges by providing specific standards and guidance to gain visibility into business critical applications, control outsourcers, and benchmark in-house and outsource development teams.
Mr. Martorelli emphasized the focus he has seen at client organizations in shifting quality to the left, and how quality is bleeding into many new stakeholders’ responsibilities.
Some of the trends covered during the discussion included:

Moving test and quality to the left of the waterfall
Addressing architectural sprawl with more architectural and engineering know-how
Seeing quality measurement become an important component of service levels
Emerging combined professional services/managed services offerings
Shifting responsibility for quality management to the business user
Favoring more results-driven approaches over conventional staffing-based testing services

Mr. Ganesan from TCS provided insight into how TCS Assurance Services is evolving to meet these new challenges.  Mr. Ganesan explained TCS’s rationale for evolving beyond code checkers and simple code hygiene and the need to employ automated, structural analysis to provide world class service to their clients and ensure more reliable, high quality deliverables.
We’d like to thank each of our panelists for their time and insight.  We received a high-level of interest from attendees with a lot of questions submitted for our speakers.  Please find a selection of these questions below.   If you’d like to listen to the recording of the webinar, click here.
It is clear how one might apply this to new development, but how does one approach applying a code quality metric to an existing portfolio? Would not the changes be overwhelming?
In truth, this is very possible and happens to be a significant non-starter for many organizations.  The sudden accounting of all the potential issues within applications could be perceived as daunting.  However, many solutions have a tendency to generate a lot of ‘noise’ during their analysis.  At CAST, we propose a risk-based approach: one that focuses on the identification of the most critical violations rather than all possible violations. We also focus on the new violations being added, rather than the ones sitting in your systems for years. This way, your critical path during an initial technical assessment of an application or portfolio should focus on identifying the most critical risks.  CAST AIP provides a Transaction-wide Risk Index that displays the different transactions of the application sorted by risk category (performance, robustness or security). By focusing on these violations, you will improve the critical transactions of the application.  Additionally, AIP generates a Propagated Risk Index to illustrate the objects/ rule pairing that will have the biggest impact on improving the overall health of the application or system.  Any analysis without this level of detail and prioritization will certainly create more obstacles than it removes.
How do you see the use of Open Source code changing software risk?
Open Source, just like code developed by your own team or partner, injects risk into systems. And just like any other code, the biggest risk is lack of visibility into that code.  Studies have found that in general open source code is better than industry averages.  Other studies suggest that the quality of the code is a factor of the testing approach of that open source community.  Code that is tested continuously tends to have fewer defects.  It is nearly impossible to suggest that Open Source is more risky.  What is possible is to suggest that receiving code from any source, Open or contracted, without a proper and objective measure of that deliverable adds risk to your systems.
Bill Martorelli mentioned “Technical/Code Debt” as a quality metric; could you explain a little further, please?
The term “Technical Debt”, first defined by Ward Cunningham in 1992, is having a renaissance. A wide variety of ways to define and calculate Technical Debt are emerging.
While the methods may vary, how you define and calculate Technical Debt makes a big difference to the accuracy and utility of the result. Some authors count the need for upgrades as Technical Debt; however this can lead to some very large estimates. At CAST, our calculation of Technical Debt is data-driven, leading to an objective, conservative, and actionable estimate.
We define Technical Debt in an application as the effort required to fix only those problems that are highly likely to cause severe business disruption and remain in the code when an application is released; it does not include all problems, just the most serious ones.
Based on this definition, we estimate that the Technical Debt of an average-sized application of 300,000 lines of code is $1,083,000 – so, a million dollars. For further details on our calculation method and results on the current state of software quality, please see the CRASH Report (CAST Report on Application Software Health).
Here’s a community dedicated to the awareness and education of the topic:
I have heard a lot focused on Quality discussion today, but curious about this group’s perspective on the other component of CAST AIP, function point analysis?
In addition to measuring a system’s quality, the ability to measure the number of function points as well as precise measures of the changes in the number and complexity of all application components makes it possible to accurately measure development team productivity.  Employing CAST AIP as a productivity measurement solution enables:

The calculation of a productivity baseline of either in-house our offshore teams.
The tracking of productivity over time by month or release.
The ability to automatically generate measures of quality and complexity.
The identification of the root cause of process inefficiencies
The capability to measure effectiveness of process improvements.

CAST AIP and the CISQ Automated Function Point Specification: The CISQ Automated Function Point Specification produced by the CISQ team led by David Herron of the David Consulting Group has recently passed an important milestone. CISQ has worked with the OMG Architecture Board to get the specification properly represented in OMG’s existing meta-models. This specification was defined as closely as possible to the IFPUG counting guidelines, while providing the specificity required for automation. This fall it was approved for a 3-month public review on the OMG website. All comments received will be reviewed at the December OMG Technical Meeting, and the relevant OMG boards will vote on approving it as an OMG-supported specification (OMG’s equivalent of a standard). From there, it will undergo OMG’s fast-track process with ISO to have it considered for inclusion in the relevant ISO standard.  We believe this standard will expand the use of Function Point measures by dramatically reducing their cost and improving their consistency.
Is the industry average of production incidents 1 per week and 1 outage per month?/ Are these major incidents and outages for the enterprise?
Here’s a site that provides additional insight into the impact of outages.

Surviving the IT Perfect Storm

The economy, the complexity and pace of business, and an ongoing lack of resources have created a perfect storm for IT departments worldwide. As wave after wave of IT failures litter the press, there’s no question that the storm is here. In its wake, businesses are faltering, careers are shattering, and stockholders are left wondering “How could this happen … again?”
The key to preventing your business and career from landing on the rocks is the aggressive identification and elimination of risk. This document provides some tactics designed to identify risks across vast application portfolios and eliminate risk within critical business systems.
Red sky at morning, sailor take warning
With years of experience in exposing risks in IT systems, CAST provides a suite of offerings that yield the insight necessary to identify what can lead to high-profile production failures and cyberattacks. We also provide the remediation plans to eliminate the root cause of these issues.

Rapid Portfolio Analysis (RPA) creates transparency into vast application portfolios to identify risk. RPA derives measurements such as production failure potential and software complexity and maintainability. It also profiles portfolios to highlight short-term and long-term risks in critical systems.
CAST’s Application Intelligence Platform (AIP) provides a robust DNA-level analysis of individual enterprise systems with specific guidance for eliminating business risk caused by structural and technical quality issues. It does this either on applications you know are in trouble, or by using the insight delivered by RPA to create a prioritized list of applications to unleash AIP.

Highlight Latent System Risks
Rapid Portfolio Analysis (RPA) creates technical and business risk profiles based on automated analysis and insight to support application portfolio analysis, portfolio rationalization, or technical assessments.
RPA analyzes source code against a set of engineering rules and principles to identify potential production defects, maintenance or modification issues, and excessive complexity. These are some issues that contribute to potential failures and real business risks. RPA rounds out this assessment by generating software maintenance estimates of applications, as well as estimates of the technical debt.
A Dive Deep in to Critical Systems
Using highly sophisticated code analyzers and more than 1,000 rules based on engineering principles, AIP dives deep into an application from the largest modules down to individual methods, classes, and components. AIP analyzes and semantically understands source code, scripting, and interface languages across all layers of an application.
The resulting analysis identifies quality lapses in an application’s source code, and provides precise guidance on how to fix the problems. Additionally, AIP validates architecture, ensures adherence to frameworks, and automates sizing such as function points. Doing so provides a robust view of the systems size, complexity, and quality.
Measure the Business Impact of Quality
Through extensive research and industrial experience, CAST has identified five areas of structural software quality that most impact business risks and outcomes. Each of these five areas can be assessed by measuring numerous attributes of the software that can summarize structural software quality at a level that can be related to business value.
Navigate Risk with Actionable Insight
Identifying the root cause of system risk is only the first step. CAST assessment with AIP not only identifies these issues, it provides rationale as to which violations have been recorded and which are most critical. IT also creates action plans that lead technical teams in the remediation effort.
You Can’t Stay in the Harbor to Wait Out the Storm
As a leader, you need to ensure your team has the time and resources needed to root out and eliminate risks that can potentially damage the business. The key to effectively managing risks in an application portfolio is early detection of issues and the ability to quickly mitigate them.
With the detailed information provided by AIP in hand, application development executives and business leaders can map out and monitor aggressive remediation efforts that drive out system-level risk, resulting in more resilient and reliable applications.
Whether you need a macro-view of your portfolio risks or a micro-view of a specific application, CAST’s suite of assessment solutions can help. Contact your CAST representative now to learn how we can create the visibility needed to navigate through these troubled waters.