Vendors replied to our invitation to participate in Forrester’s Now Tech: Integrated Software Delivery Platforms, Q2 2022 with a common refrain: “What is an ISDP?” Now that we’ve published the ISDP Now Tech, we thought it’d be good to go in depth into where this category came from, why it matters, identify four different types of ISDPs, and share a few thoughts about the future of ISDPs.

Who Killed The CI & CDRA Now Techs?

We did. Here’s why: Integration continued. As DevOps and DevOps-adjacent practices reshaped the development and delivery landscape, the boundaries between continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery release automation (CDRA) began to dissolve and the overlap between the CI and CDRA Now Techs increased dramatically. Rather than running two Now Tech reports that featured more or less the same vendors and products, we combined CI and CDRA into a single product category: the integrated software delivery platform (ISDP).

Users Need Simplicity

The ISDP category wasn’t just a response to vendor landscape overlap. It turns out that our clients are also trying to simplify their toolsets. In fact, we wrote a blog about this shift in 2019, when we first began to observe that leaders were tired of a chaotic collection of tools. Developer and operations leaders wanted to simplify and rationalize the number of tools in use so that developers could more easily migrate from team to team, so that estimates and metrics for one team could be compared with one another, and, lastly, so that they could reduce the overall number of license and support contracts (not necessarily with a single vendor but with a subset of tools, which balances chaos with pragmatism).

OK, Enough History: What Is An ISDP?

Integrated software delivery platforms enable an automated software delivery process from code build to code release, linking together discrete automation capabilities into a unified and open platform that provides APIs and other integration options. They enable users to customize the platform to suit their unique needs by combining capabilities of the platform with custom or third-party tools.

These platforms differ from standalone, best-of-breed tools in that they provide an out-of-the-box integration across a core segment of the software delivery process. They differ from legacy, end-to-end software development lifecycle (SDLC) tools by offering open platforms that anticipate their users augmenting the solution with third-party tools such as security scanning or impact analytics, enabling users to create a modern tool chain where new capabilities can more easily be added or replace existing capabilities as needed.

Four Flavors Of ISDPs

After reviewing vendor responses to our questionnaire, we chose to identify four varieties of ISDPs that would reflect different use cases:

  • DevOps platform provider. These vendors offer a broad set of capabilities, such as integrated continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) combined with release automation.
  • Software engineering platform provider. These vendors target enterprise software engineering teams that operate their own DevOps tools and have integrated CI/CD combined with built-in capabilities to capture process metrics.
  • Site reliability engineer (SRE)/release engineering platform provider. These vendors concentrate their offerings on release and operational functions and provide release orchestration, blue/green deployments, and risk analysis.
  • Interdisciplinary team platform provider. These vendors typically include product planning, value stream management, and collaboration capabilities directly as part of their offering.

What’s Next For ISDPs?

More integration and more automation. The pace of software development will only increase, and developer tooling must grow with it. The emergence of DevSecOps is just one example of this trend. If your organization is seeking to simplify its tooling in support of development teams, this report will provide insight on the vendors that are in line with that vision.

(written with Zachary Stone)