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Survey Reveals Software Development Problems Caused by Inefficient Builds

- Hundreds of Development Professionals Report Builds Are Longer Than Ever, Break Frequently, and Impact Development Productivit

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- 04/25/06 -- According to a recent survey from Osterman Research and sponsored by Electric Cloud, a surprising number of software development problems can be traced to something typically overlooked -- the software build process.

The newly released research found that a number of build issues were pervasive in companies of all sizes, including the following:

--  The vast majority of respondents (224) said that their builds were
    more than an hour long.
--  Almost half (49.9 percent) said that their builds were longer now than
    they were a year ago.
--  68 percent of respondents said that builds broke at least a few times
    per month.
--  48 percent reported delayed software releases due to broken builds
    late in the cycle.

Osterman Research surveyed 352 software development professionals directly involved with their organizations' build processes to identify the most pervasive and troubling problems with the software build process. The survey found that some of the least acknowledged but most significant day-to-day productivity problems involve the software build process, including waiting for slow builds, dealing with broken builds, and diminishing developer productivity.

Slow Builds Prolong the Development Lifecycle

Survey respondents reported a considerable and growing concern with slow builds, which can directly lead to hours of lost productivity each work week. The Osterman study showed that the majority of respondents (64.7 percent) said that their builds were more than an hour long. The largest sub-group (24 percent) said that their builds were between two and four hours long, while four percent reported builds more than eight hours in length.

This is a growing problem. Almost half (49.9 percent) said that their builds were longer now than they were a year ago. 8 percent reported a greater than 50 percent increase from a year ago. Ironically, almost 43 percent also reported that they were either working toward, or planning on a move to continuous integration, something that becomes very difficult to do as builds get longer and longer.

Fixing Broken Builds Consumes Weeks of Development Time

Approximately 68 percent of respondents said that builds broke at least a few times per month, while 13 percent said this was a weekly occurrence. More than half (51.8 percent) reported that these breaks took more than an hour to track down and fix. The largest group, 44 percent, said that they spent between one and four hours fixing a broken build. 48 percent also reported delayed releases due to broken builds late in the cycle, directly impacting time-to-market.

"The data in this survey clearly shows that quite a bit of time is spent tracking down broken builds," said Michael Osterman, Principal, Osterman Research. "Let's say it takes an average of 2.5 hours to fix a broken build, and it happened just three times per month. This would mean that 7.5 person hours per month, or more than two weeks per year, is wasted tracking down and fixing broken builds. A technology that optimizes builds and reduces the time spent on build diagnostics would clearly produce tangible productivity improvements for these organizations."

Lost Productivity Due to Developers Waiting for Builds

Lost productivity to the software development organization is a pervasive effect of inefficient and broken builds, according to survey results. While 250 respondents said they sometimes switch to other projects while waiting for builds, a full 332 respondents admitted that, at least some of the time, they surf the Web, chat with friends, or just take a break while waiting for builds.

"Development teams are increasingly adopting agile best practices and are discovering the benefits of continuous integration and frequent builds," said Mike Maciag, CEO of Electric Cloud. "What they find is that it is simply not possible to do continuous integration with slow builds. Electric Cloud is helping leading development organizations to dramatically shorten build times and enjoy the quality benefits of agile development practices."

About the Survey

The survey was conducted by Osterman Research in February and March 2006. The research firm collected data from 352 software development professionals from across the country at companies of various sizes. Most (85 percent) were either build managers, part of the build team, or managed the build team at both small and large companies. Other respondents were engineers and professionals who regularly invoked builds. Osterman Research is based in Black Diamond, Wash.

About Electric Cloud

Electric Cloud breaks the software build bottleneck, improving engineering productivity and helping teams maintain control over the development process in the face of ever-increasing product complexity and time-to-market pressures. Electric Cloud's patent-pending technology accelerates the development lifecycle with tools that reduce build times, make both full and incremental builds accurate, and provide the visibility teams need to continuously improve their build environment. The company's products are in use by leading enterprises such as Qualcomm, Intuit, and Motorola. Based in Mountain View, California, Electric Cloud is funded by top-tier venture firms, Mayfield, U.S. Venture Partners and RRE Ventures. For customer inquiries please contact Electric Cloud at (650) 968-2950 or

Electric Cloud, ElectricInsight, ElectricAccelerator and Electric Make are trademarks of Electric Cloud. Other company and product names may be trademarks of their respective owners.

Peter Evers
Double Forte for Electric Cloud
(415) 863-4900 x206
[email protected]

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