Selecting a CM/ALM Tool That Will Add Value to All Users

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In his CM: the Next Generation series, Joe Farah gives us a glimpse into the trends that CM experts will need to tackle and master based upon industry trends and future technology challenges.

36. Selectable differencing/merge tools: As various developers and technologies have preferences for how differences are treated, it should be possible to select the difference/merge tools that a user will use with the overall CM/ALM tool. However, the CM/ALM tool must provide generally adequate tools out-of-the-box.

37. Basic management dashboards with drill down: A 3G CM/ALM tool must provide dashboards to present overall status for various roles. There should be, at a minimum, product, project and configuration management dashboards which support the roles of the product manager, project managers, and configuration manager. Dashboards should present appropriate summary information into which the user can drill down to get additional information.

Fourth Generation CM/ALM Requirements
The future of CM/ALM tools is in the fourth generation (4G). Although peak usage for these tools may not be attained until well into the 2020s, there will be at least one 4G tool available before the end of the decade. If you are looking at tools, an understanding of 4G requirements will help you to measure existing tools and their potential to evolve. As well, many tools already meet some 4G requirements.

4G Fourth Generation CM tools (peak usage forecast 2020s-2030s):

1. Small footprint: Despite growing hardware capabilities, a small footprint for a CM/ALM tool is a strong indicator of vendor longevity. It is also a strong indicator of tool simplicity, which is ever more important and functionality continues to increase through the generations.

2. Zero administration operation: For the most part, an administrator is not required for a 4G tool. A part-time administrator may be required to deal with specific issues (e.g. applying an upgrade), but these should be intuitive and require minimal manual intervention other than high level directives (e.g. verify synchronization of all sites).

3. Scalability to thousands of users per server/platform: A 4G system must support thousands of users across an enterprise, as organizations begin to consolidate multiple projects/products into a single respository to leverage re-use, process engineering and data mining.

4. Fully synchronous multi-site: Multiple sites must be able to synchronize themselves without manual intervention. Near-zero maintenance should apply even to distributed development support. Automatic recovery from network outages must be supported. Data segregation (e.g. ITAR) must be fully supported within the framework of having multiple sites.

5. Full interoperability between 32- and 64-bit platforms: As a mixture of platforms will persist for quite a while, especially across geographic sites, the 4G tool must support full interoperability between 32 and 64 bit platforms. There must not be any significant effort required to switch a server or a client between platforms, and each must be able to concurrently interoperate with the other.

6. Unified configuration of all native and web interfaces: In cases where the web interface technology is different from the native platform interface, it must be possible to use a single configuration specification for those parts of user interface common to both web and native platforms.

About the author

Joe Farah's picture Joe Farah

Joe Farah is the President and CEO of Neuma Technology and is a regular contributor to the CM Journal. Prior to co-founding Neuma in 1990 and directing the development of CM+, Joe was Director of Software Architecture and Technology at Mitel, and in the 1970s a Development Manager at Nortel (Bell-Northern Research) where he developed the Program Library System (PLS) still heavily in use by Nortel's largest projects. A software developer since the late 1960s, Joe holds a B.A.Sc. degree in Engineering Science from the University of Toronto. You can contact Joe at farah@neuma.com

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