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What makes SDLC a "lifecycle" in the first place?

Let's say that a software vendor signed up a contract with a customer who does not require their software to maintained or supported by the vendor. In that scenario, would the lifecycle repeat itself?

In other words: is maintenance, feedback, or support an integral phase of the SDLC in every software development or software engineering scenario?

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It is a life cycle of the software, not of the vendor.

SDLC is not called Vendor Life Cycle. No matter if vendor leaves or not, software is assumed to work and this phase is its maintenance.

Note how Wikipedia definiton abstains of vendor related things and focuses on software:

Software maintenance in software engineering is the modification of a software product after delivery to correct faults, to improve performance or other attributes[1]...


End of the contract doesn't release vendor from need to understand that maintenance phase of software life cycle will follow. Knowing this can help them better plan for the future.

For example, vendor can realise that client may find maintaining software themselves too difficult and prepare to negotiate about contract for maintenance and support. Or they can invest extra effort into making their software as easy to maintain as possible and gain a competitive advantage by building an appealing reputation in the market. Etc.

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is that maintenance/feedback or support an integral phase of the SDLC in every software development or software engineering scenario

Maintenance is always an integral phase, as long as it is proposed the program or system will be run on real hardware. Real programs always have a certain risk of having defects, so as long as a program is not just written on a piece of paper without ever beeing run (for example, for educational purposes), there must be someone who fixes the defects when they prevent the program from beeing run at all.

Let's say that a software vendor signed up a contract with a customer who does not require their software to maintained or supported by the vendor.

A customer who contracts with a software vendor with no maintenance obligation could either

  • maintain the software by himself (so there is a maintenance phase)

  • take the risk of becoming stuck when the program actually does not work in production environment.

And even for the latter case, I would expect that someone could add a maintenance contract afterwards. So I cannot imagine a system where any kind of maintenance phase can be excluded reliably beforehand from its life cycle.

would the lifecycle repeat itself

Joel Spolsky's blog entry about Five Worlds mentions "throwaway software". It should be obvious that the "life cycle" of such programs is not a "cycle", and after the program was run once, it will probably not be needed any more. Note that even for throwaway programs, maintenance is part of the SDLC, since the program needs to run at least once.

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