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Software development efforts result in the delivery of a software product that satisfies user requirements. Accordingly, the software product must change or evolve. Once in operation, defects are uncovered, operating environments change, and new user requirements surface. The maintenance phase of the life cycle begins following a warranty period or post-implementation support delivery, but maintenance activities occur much earlier.
Maintenance is needed to ensure that the software continues to satisfy user requirements. Maintenance is applicable to software that is developed using any software life cycle model (for example, spiral or linear). Software products change due to corrective and noncorrective software actions. Maintenance must be performed in order to correct faults, improve design, implement enhancements, interface with other software, adapt programs so that different hardware, software, system features, and telecommunication facilities can be used, migrate legacy software, etc.
Five key characteristics comprise the maintainer’s activities are maintaining control over the software’s day-to-day functions, maintaining control over software modification, perfecting existing functions, identifying security threats and fixing security vulnerabilities and preventing software performance from degrading to unacceptable levels.
Maintenance consumes a major share of the financial resources in a software life cycle. A common perception of software maintenance is that it merely fixes faults. However, studies and surveys over the years have indicated that the majority, over 80 percent, of software maintenance is used for noncorrective actions. Grouping enhancements and corrections together in management reports contributes to some misconceptions regarding the high cost of corrections. Understanding the categories of software maintenance helps to understand the structure of software maintenance costs. Also, understanding the factors that influence the maintainability of software can help to contain costs. Some environmental factors and their relationship to software maintenance costs include operating environment refers to hardware and software, organizational environment refers to policies, competition, process, product, and personnel.
Types of maintenance have been defined: corrective, adaptive, perfective, preventative.