Constant updates are needed

By Scot Petersen  |  Posted 2005-03-08 Print this article Print

Watkins main distribution system uses an IBM CICS transaction system and DB2 database, and applications and data need to be made available to front-end systems running Windows and Microsoft Corp.s .Net applications for transfer to delivery hubs and drivers and their bar-code scanners. To keep the systems talking to one another and data flowing seamlessly, the applications must be updated constantly.

"The real reason to update is because the individual user in the field may require enhancements, or we may have to change something to maintain a competitive edge, as in right now, today," said Carr.
"We implement multiple changes every day to our programs, both on open systems and mainframes. Some are small tweaks, or some are a bunch of modules in one large change from the collaboration of several programmers."

Keeping all the changes in order are developer change management and team development products from Serena Software Inc.—Serena ChangeMan ZMF (for IBM zSeries mainframes) and Serena TeamTrack.

Click here to read more about UPS results after testing radio-frequency identification. Team development and collaboration tools and methods are as numerous as some of Watkins routes are long. All the major software providers, including Microsoft, with its Visual Studio Team System; IBM Rational, with its ClearCase line and other tools; Borland Software Corp., with its new Borland Core SDP (Software Delivery Platform); and CollabNet Inc., with its namesake Enterprise Edition, have some form of team developer management.

All of these products help developers manage the application life cycle, from creation to patch management. Also in the mix are team or collaborative development methodologies such as the "agile," "lean" and "extreme" programming methods that were spawned from TQM (Total Quality Management) concepts in which developers code in teams and practice refactoring, or constantly testing, correcting and updating code before it enters a production system.

Overall, change management in a team setting means that every developer knows what code is being changed, when and by whom; what change is being made; and that the change can be rolled back if it doesnt work.

Watkins also considered Computer Associates International Inc. solutions. But for its needs, Watkins went with Serena because of its ability to manage development and change for multiple platforms at once, at the mainframe level and the open-system level, Carr said.

"We went with Serena because [their products] do several things, and they were making the most effort to improve their products," Carr said. "That turned out to be true. In the new releases, they listen to their customers. Suggestions appear in [software] two or three releases down the road."

Serena has its roots in change management, but the San Mateo, Calif., company bolstered its team development strategy when it acquired TeamShare Inc. in mid-2003. Products from that deal became Serena TeamTrack and enabled Serena to complete its PLM (product lifecycle management) lineup.

"ChangeMan ZMF has supported team-based development for a while, enabling concurrent development with multiple developers working on the same piece of code," said Pradeep Bhanot, product marketing manager for mainframe application lifecycle management at Serena. "You check out [code], make changes and let others know. We extended that approach by adding TeamTrack into [the] mix. TeamTrack is really the glue that brings together all the software change management solutions."

Serena TeamTrack 6.2, released last fall, is slated for a refresh later this year. The earlier release concentrated on workflow connectivity and making TeamTrack more "mainframe aware," said Bhanot. He said he is hoping to get another TeamTrack release out by the end of the year that will tighten up some of the software delivery mechanisms and add more functionality for the programmer, with impact analysis reports available through a Web browser.

Next Page: Serena shows off.


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