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Quality Problems Cost Software Companies Up to $22 Million Annually

08.21.2008
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A new white paper by International Data Corporation (IDC), found existing software quality approaches at most companies are inadequate to address the internal and external costs of software defects. Sponsored by Coverity, the IDC white paper “Improving Software Quality to Drive Business Agility,” found that development organizations find major problems with their software even after quality assurance and spend significant amounts of effort and time to repair those defects. Depending on organizational size, respondents from the IDC survey indicated that the costs of debugging are significant, reaching up to $22 million each year for some companies.

The white paper presents the results of a survey of North American companies, ranging from 250 to 10,000 employees, which were polled in the second quarter of 2008. The survey, commissioned by Coverity™, indicated that developers today see code becoming increasingly complex, with 63 percent of respondents stating that they expected code to become more complex in the coming year. Compounding the impact of this issue, 72 percent of respondents stated their debugging process remains problematic. Respondents to the survey were also found to be overly optimistic about both their defect levels and the success of internal QA environments in identifying and repairing code problems.

“Quality software remains a key business differentiator. Businesses and the IT organizations supporting them have no choice with regard to quality initiatives and the need to address the debilitating costs of software defects,” said Melinda Ballou, program director for IDC's Application Life-Cycle Management research. “Organizations should evaluate current process and organizational approaches to software quality in combination with automated approaches for code analysis and testing to help enable more secure, successful, better managed software implementations.”

According to the findings of the survey, the quality of today’s software is affected by the increasingly complex nature of code, cause by geographically distributed teams, outsourcing, legacy code, the use of open source code and the emergence of multi-threaded applications among other sources. As evidence of this, over 50 percent or respondents stated they find between 1 and 10 critical defects that require patches in the first year after releasing software into production.

“Based on our collaboration with IDC, the industry now has hard data confirming what nearly every software development organization has suspected for years - quality problems are consuming significant resources and still compromise the integrity of software in the field, “said Ben Chelf, CTO of Coverity. “Development organizations today need innovative tools that automate the tedious process of defect detection so their valued developers can stay focused on delivering new features and functionality instead of debugging problems left over from previous releases.”

The full IDC white paper sponsored by Coverity “Improving Software Quality to Drive Business Agility,” Doc # 212971, June 2008 is available for download at:

http://www.coverity.com/library/pdf/IDC_Improving_Software_Quality_June_2008.pdf

About Coverity
Coverity (http://www.coverity.com), the leader in improving software quality and security, is a privately held company headquartered in San Francisco. Coverity’s groundbreaking technology enables developers to control complexity in the development process by automatically finding and helping to repair critical software defects and security vulnerabilities throughout the application lifecycle. More than 450 leading companies including ARM, Phillips, RIM, Rockwell-Collins, Samsung and UBS rely on Coverity to help them ensure the delivery of superior software.

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Published at DZone with permission of its author, Martin steve. (source)

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)

Comments

Harris Goldstone replied on Thu, 2008/08/21 - 7:27am

According to the findings of the survey, the quality of today’s software is affected by the increasingly complex nature of code, cause by geographically distributed teams, outsourcing, legacy code, the use of open source code and the emergence of multi-threaded applications among other sources.

 

An excuse for all seasons...

Geertjan Wielenga replied on Thu, 2008/08/21 - 7:42am in response to: Harris Goldstone

[quote=harris goldstone]

According to the findings of the survey, the quality of today’s software is affected by the increasingly complex nature of code, cause by geographically distributed teams, outsourcing, legacy code, the use of open source code and the emergence of multi-threaded applications among other sources.

 

An excuse for all seasons...

[/quote]

 

But in and of itself how can "the use of open source code" directly lead to an impact on the quality of software?

Brian Sayatovic replied on Thu, 2008/08/21 - 9:28am in response to: Harris Goldstone

I agree, I don't like that list of excuses.

The defects I find emerge from an accumulation of bad programming practices that are believed to save time, but never do.  All too often, people are driven to do bad things in order to meet a deadline (e.g. copy & paste code, use a primitive, swallow an exception).  These often don't directly produce a bug, but do indirectly later in maintenance (e.g. bug only fixed in one of the copy & pasted locations, primitive is too primitive to hold more information, swallowed exception allowed bad data to propogate affecting something else).

Mrmagoo Magoo replied on Thu, 2008/08/21 - 3:57pm

"emerge from an accumulation of bad programming practices"

I think the first and main thrust of the article was actually about complexity increasing and thus the problem has/is getting worse. I think we can all agree that  increasingly complexity will make bad programming practice stand out more. It will also make mediocre practice bad. :)

Besides which, it is all very fine and well to blame programmers totally for their "bad practice", but many places I have worked (including the current) were forced into bad practice by management and forced deadlines. (literally "just get it done") Then it became culture. 

Now poor B'stards like me find it difficult to do ANY sort of good programming practice due to the code complexity and architecture. 

Slava Imeshev replied on Fri, 2008/08/22 - 3:58pm in response to: Geertjan Wielenga

[quote=geertjan]

But in and of itself how can "the use of open source code" directly lead to an impact on the quality of software?

[/quote]

 

This may have to do with the fact that free software is not subject to market forces, so there is no a strong driver for quality. Note that I don't mention open-sourceness. When a progect goes over 1mloc, it does not really matter if you have the code. You wouldn't be able to do anyting with it anyway.

Commercial software may suck just the same, but the reasons for that are different and there is always possibility that an organization that produce a low qaulity product dies thanks to market forces and that another one does a better job.

Geertjan Wielenga replied on Fri, 2008/08/22 - 4:06pm in response to: Slava Imeshev

[quote=imeshev][quote=geertjan]

But in and of itself how can "the use of open source code" directly lead to an impact on the quality of software?

[/quote]

 

This may have to do with the fact that free software is not subject to market forces, so there is no a strong driver for quality. [snipsnipsnip]

[/quote]

 

Really? Eclipse and NetBeans IDE are both free. You'd be surprised, apparently, at the effect of market forces on those IDEs.  Sure, maybe not direct market forces. But there's a very strong drive for quality, otherwise everyone would dump them for an alternative.

Slava Imeshev replied on Fri, 2008/08/22 - 5:18pm in response to: Geertjan Wielenga

[quote=geertjan]

Really? Eclipse and NetBeans IDE are both free. You'd be surprised, apparently, at the effect of market forces on those IDEs. Sure, maybe not direct market forces. But there's a very strong drive for quality, otherwise everyone would dump them for an alternative.

[/quote]

 

Rumors have it IBM invests around $180M into Eclipse R&D and marketing. Working towards the market where all software is free and all services are IBM's is a *very* strong marked force.

 

Slava

 

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