ALM is all about ease of use and low costs. Ease of use needs to be considered for all roles including Administration, CM Manager, and the various vertical users (Testers, Developers, Managers, Project Managers, etc.). Low costs need to be considered across all aspects of the ALM function and environment. This includes user productivity (all roles), down-time avoidance, ALM tool evaluation/deployment, ongoing administration, cost of customization, cost of solution upgrades, license costs, annual maintenance, process support, integration costs (3rd party tools or between ALM point tools). And both ease of use and costing need to be considered across all ALM functions. 4G ALM takes ease-of-use to a new level, and excels in ease of customization.
If you can hit these, you're well on your way to a Next Generation ALM solution. At the risk of being subjective, we'll look into the future by looking at a tool that stacks up well against these criteria.
An Overview of CM+
CM+ is an ALM tool that started out, circa 1990, as an ALM tool. It did not grow out of a version control or even configuration management tool. Hence the "+". CM+ sits on top of what is known as the "STS Engine". This engine combines a next generation "hybrid" database/repository (relational, object-oriented, revisioned, large object, tree-/network-oriented data), with a process engine (rules, triggers, permissions, access, encryption, state-flow, guidance), and a customizable user interface capability - the GUI Generation Engine. The UI can be fully command-line oriented (CLI), fully graphical (GUI), or a mix. The STS Engine was designed to support the number one goal of CM+, to support the process the way the corporation needs it. It was also designed to be ultra-reliable, extremely scalable, and administration-free.
CM+ is an application layer integrated on top of the STS Engine. It's strength derives from the strong CM background of its founder at Nortel and elsewhere. The out-of-the-box CM process is mature. Change packages, known as Updates, were built in from the beginning, as a central component to change. Although branches are lightweight in CM+, Neuma encourages minimal branching (i.e. for parallel release management) by providing other mechanisms for tagging Build and Baseline definitions, promotion levels, and short term parallel checkout.
Perhaps the strongest element of CM+ is the ability to easily customize all aspects of the ALM tool. The focus here is on "easily". For example, a trained CM+ consultant can create an extensive dashboard in a few minutes. Virtually everything can be customized: state-flow, commands, dialog panels, dashboards, pull-down and pop-up menus, tool bars, quick links, active reports, guidance, help, data schema, application function set, color scheme, etc. The nice thing is that there's hardly any scripting - it's primarily data driven or a single line command per customization. Once familiar with the basic architecture, you stop asking "Can it..." and you start asking "How".
But the first thing that a user tends to notice is the level of traceability and seamless integration of ALM functions. Have some data and need to see where it comes from or what it leads to - just a click away - and if it's not, make it so. It is extremely responsive, so that you may traverse several links in just a few seconds, individually or collectively. The information is at your fingertips, in a variety of formats.
CM+ supports the common ALM functions: Version Control, Change Management, Customer Requests, Requirements, Problem Reports/Defects, Projects/Activities/Tasks, Configuration Management, Build and Release Management, Test Case and Test Run Management, and a few other areas, all built on the STS Engine. So traceability is pervasive, as is