Tasktop Launches Software Lifecycle Integration, New Eclipse M4 Project

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2013-03-27

Tasktop Launches Software Lifecycle Integration, New Eclipse M4 Project

Tasktop Technologies, a provider of application lifecycle management (ALM) integration solutions, recently announced its Software Lifecycle Integration (SLI) initiative that aims to address the growing fragmentation and complexity enterprises face in large-scale software delivery.

SLI is a new kind of infrastructure for connecting the software lifecycle to help enterprises achieve cross-discipline collaboration and lean ALM, Tasktop officials said.

Essentially, SLI is Tasktop’s “manifesto” for the integrated software lifecycle, summarized from its work with enterprise customers and industry partners to form a new industry discipline, the company said.

The announcement includes the publication of a common technical architecture and data model, repeatable integration patterns, an integration pattern catalog, and a new Eclipse Mylyn m4 open-source project to support SLI that is being proposed this week at the EclipseCon Boston 2013 conference.

“Typically, there are all these silos in an enterprise and SLI is what enables the silos to work together,” Neelan Choksi, chief operating officer at Tasktop, told eWEEK.

Mik Kersten, CEO and founder of Tasktop, said the Internet protocols for how tools are to be connected “just don’t work. And we know if we keep going like this we’re not going to advance as an industry. We need to get beyond the existing integration capabilities of the world like the Tibcos and such.”

Kersten added that the reason technologies such as Tibco’s and IBM’s WebSphere MQ don’t work for this is “because they’re about integrating data, not about integrating the way people work.”

Tasktop announced its news at the ALM Connect conference, which is co-located with EclipseCon and OSGi DevCon 2013 in Boston.

“Despite a decade of efforts to modernize the software tool chain, we have failed to realize the promise of ALM due to a lack of an integration infrastructure that connects vendors, open-source tools and software suppliers,” Kersten said in a statement. “Software Lifecycle Integration is the culmination of years of collaboration with enterprise IT organizations, open source developers, ISV partners and industry thought leaders. We are all committed to automating the lifecycle processes that will, in turn, bring the benefits of social coding to the entire organization and pave the way for a lean software supply chain.”

Kersten said Tasktop, together with a growing community of customer, partner and industry supporters, have developed and will make available the core components of SLI including the SLI Technical Architecture, which is a set of architectural principles, design patterns and a roadmap to get the new role of the Lifecycle Architect started within organizations needing to connect the software delivery process. Kersten said this role must own the end-to-end software development process across ALM silos.

Tasktop Launches Software Lifecycle Integration, New Eclipse M4 Project

Other components include the SLI Data Model, a common model and taxonomy that provides the key abstraction mechanisms needed for an organization to implement SLI, and SLI Integration Patterns, which are repeatable design patterns that will help architects streamline the automation and SLI process.  In addition, the new Eclipse Mylyn m4 open-source project will implement the SLI data model and provide the runtimes required to embed SLI into integrated ALM applications. The project will be server-side focused -- de-coupled from the Mylyn client -- and also serve as the bridge between the SLI data model and existing standards, such as Open Services for Lifecycle Collaboration (OSLC). Tasktop is familiar with OSLC from collaborations with IBM.

Faced with increasingly complex tool chains, outsourced development and the need to deliver more software with less, SLI will provide software organizations with the infrastructure to connect the software delivery and maintenance process. Its intent is to rally the industry around a common set of technical and process disciplines to enable software delivery professionals, project managers, operations and the PMO to work effectively together by maximizing the flow of information between software delivery tools and practices.

Kersten noted that 30 percent to 70 percent of software projects fail – a rate that is simply too high, he said.

“Agile creates the need to break down the barriers between disciplines. But software delivery tools add to the barriers,” said Ken Schwaber, founder of Scrum.org. “The time is right for organizations to start thinking about connecting tools more strategically to enable the practice of software delivery to flow.”

The foundation of SLI is based on the abstraction of the social task – or all of the related and interconnected activities that make up the software development, delivery and maintenance process, Tasktop said. This expands upon the data flow models associated with traditional ALM that center on core development artifacts. SLI provides the technical architecture – implemented as an ALM integration bus – to create a central flow for software delivery.

SLI will improve insight, choice and flow in the enterprise ALM lifecycle. It will unlock data trapped in ALM silos for end-to-end visibility and analytics, deploy a build-measure-learn loop from idea to deployment, and automate end-to-end traceability, governance and compliance, Kersten said. Regarding choice, SLI will integrate best-of-breed, open source, legacy and enterprise agile tools, connect stakeholders within and across the organization and connect the software supply chain. It also will help foster cross-stakeholder collaboration and capture the social conversation of software delivery.

“Similar to the benefits that we saw with enterprise services buses, we will be able to connect heterogeneous ALM stacks and create the connected lifecycle,” said Dave West, Tasktop’s chief product officer, in a statement. “Tool vendors will have the ability to integrate their solutions with entrenched and best-of-breed tools, and practitioners will have the ability to use their tool of choice. The lack of integration has become the main bottleneck in software delivery and this initiative takes a community approach to solving this problem once-and-for-all.”

Meanwhile, in an interview with TechTarget’s SearchSOA, West said: “You could say that SLI puts the L in ALM by integrating the tools and practices that comprise the lifecycle. While I have always preached the need for ALM, I have been very disappointed with the reality of ALM deployments.”

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