Last year, we announced the emergence of the integrated software delivery platform (ISDP) market. At the time, we argued that DevOps and DevOps-adjacent practices had reshaped the development and delivery landscape such that the boundaries between our continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery release automation (CDRA) coverage felt arbitrary and out of step with the boots-on-the-ground reality of software development. As a result, we combined CI and CDRA coverage into a single product category: the ISDP.

From Monoliths To Toolboxes

Back in the old days, we used large, monolithic software development platforms such as ClearCase and Microsoft TFS. Fed up with ever-increasing prices and vendor lock-in, the developer community revolted against this tyranny and produced a new breed of software development tool. Many were open source, such as Jenkins for continuous integration, Git for version control, Sonar for code quality, and others. In the past decade, there’s been an explosion in the number and variety of development automation tools. Whereas before there were a handful of platforms and tools, now there are literally hundreds of tools to choose from for each phase of software development, making it perhaps the broadest and deepest (in terms of number of different types of tools and number of different tool offerings) of all software product markets, period.

Paying The DevOps Tax

Diversity brings challenges when developing code at scale. When different teams select different tools, everything gets more complicated, from maintaining compliance at scale to delivering a common developer experience across an organization. On top of that, each snowflake development platform carries the burden of requiring custom care and feeding, resulting in a “DevOps tax” that slows teams down and diverts resources to toolchain maintenance. Many enterprises are shifting to platform teams to combat this, but even the platform team is looking for help: They want to be in the business of providing capabilities to their users — the developers, operations pros, and product leaders — not building custom toolchains.

Enter The ISDP

In this context, it is hardly surprising that 79% of our ISDP reference customers selected “tool consolidation” as a high priority for selecting their ISDP vendor. The only other priority to score as high was “improve software quality.” This explains why next-gen platform builders are taking a long, hard look at ISDPs. At minimum, ISDPs not only offer an open platform that provides core capabilities such as continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) but also a centralized system for managing users (for consistent compliance), a centralized platform to onboard new developers (for improved developer experience), and extras such as policy as code, secured pipelines, release readiness, and value stream analytics to provide observability into the dev process, manage costs, and connect effort with value. In short, our references want a platform that will allow them to reap the rewards of DevOps without paying its tool tax. ISDPs solve this problem.

Making Waves

In The Forrester Wave™: Integrated Software Delivery Platforms, Q2 2023, our inaugural Wave covering ISDPs, we identified 13 of the most significant players in this market based on size and capability and ranked them based on 26 separate criteria that cover both the product offering and the product strategy. We had one Leader and many Strong Contenders in this somewhat nascent, yet already highly competitive, market. Each solution is as diverse as the developers who will use them, with some vendors offering end-to-end solutions from planning to release, whereas others choose to specialize in specific segments of the software delivery process, such as CI/CD, AI-assisted coding, or security. Each vendor offering had elements of commonality but also its own unique spin on what it is to be an ISDP.

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. Have questions? Reach out to schedule an inquiry or Forrester Decisions guidance session.

(written with Zachary Stone)