Tasktop Sync 3.0 Brings Service Desk, DevOps Support

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2013-12-11

Tasktop Sync 3.0 Brings Service Desk, DevOps Support

Tasktop Technologies, a maker of application lifecycle management (ALM) integration technology, has released a major new version of Sync, its Software Lifecycle Integration platform.

Sync 3.0 brings operations further into the collaborative mix and expands Tasktop's DevOps agenda, which has been part of the company's strategy for some time. Indeed, Sync 3.0 supports new levels of collaboration among development, quality assurance (QA), the project management office (PMO), Agile project managers and now operations.

The new Tasktop Sync also expands the company's ALM integration ecosystem with new support for IT service management (ITSM) and help desk tools from ServiceNow and Atlassian Service Desk. In addition, Tasktop Sync 3.0 includes new capabilities for teams using products from Rally and Serena, special capabilities for teams using Clarity PPM and JIRA together, and for very large organizations deploying Tasktop Sync across numerous project teams.

The latest version of Tasktop Sync builds on the April 2013 launch of Sync support of Clarity PPM that extends ALM integration to CA Technologies' portfolio and project management product. The integration of CA Clarity PPM, along with leading service desk tools, helps IT organizations synchronize business priorities—development activities and progress—on the front end and automate end-user feedback loops on the back end. Both integrations are the result of large enterprise IT organization requests, the company said.

"The software lifecycle is only as efficient as its weakest and most manual link," said Mik Kersten, co-founder and CEO of Tasktop. "To date, development and support teams struggled with constant escalation emails, unnecessary meetings, or brittle point-to-point import tools. As is the case with other lifecycle processes that we've helped automate, Tasktop Sync 3.0 changes the game with an enterprise-grade integration bus that now supports all members of software delivery teams, even in the largest of IT organizations."

Upon its initial release, Tasktop Sync provided server-side integration to the ALM tools—work item tracking, requirements management, test management, issue tracking, agile planning—that development and QA teams depend upon to deliver high-quality software. In April, Tasktop expanded this capability to include tools the PMO uses, specifically Project and Portfolio Management (PPM). With the current release, even more of the software development and delivery team is included, extending to the Service Desk and ITSM professionals, and Service Desk software. In this release, both the ServiceNow platform and JIRA Service Desk become part of the Tasktop Sync ecosystem.

"Software development and service desk teams shouldn't work in silos," said Edwin Wong, product manager for Atlassian JIRA Service Desk. "After all, the software development process doesn't just end with deployment; developers continue to improve software largely thanks to user feedback. Atlassian recently launched JIRA Service Desk in part to connect the service desk and development teams using JIRA, so problems can be identified and resolved faster and with better traceability. This generally improves software and the overall user experience."


Tasktop Sync 3.0 Brings Service Desk, DevOps Support

Ideally, a connected software lifecycle should work like it does in a well-oiled open-source project—which is what Kersten et al have been trying to achieve. In a blog post on the Sync 3.0 release, Kersten wrote:

"Open source projects have it good. Their issue tracker serves as the single system of record for all development, support, quality management and planning activity. The result is a theoretical ideal in terms of a connected software lifecycle. For example, every vote that a user makes for a particular bug is immediately visible to developers. As soon as a new feature is added, users watching the corresponding task are automatically prompted to try the latest build and report back. This kind of real-time connectivity between users, developers and project leaders makes for an incredibly efficient build-measure-learn loop, which explains why so many open source project are able to deliver so much value so quickly."

However, "The problem is that this open source project management approach doesn't scale to the enterprise," he said. Thus, Tasktop's goal with Software Lifecycle Integration is to unify the ALM stack while allowing software stakeholders to use the systems that make them most productive.

Moreover, "Connecting the help desk and bridging the task management gap between Dev and Ops is the most exciting Sync 3.0 news in terms of our mission to scale the efficiency of open source development to the enterprise software lifecycle," Kersten said.

"Sync 3.0 implements our vision for Software Lifecycle Integration and connects it to the Ops side," Kersten told eWEEK.

Tasktop Sync 3.0 includes additional capability for Agile software development, by including support for solutions from Rally Software. Now, teams using Rally for Agile development processes can easily collaborate with teams that use other Sync ecosystem tools. This is especially applicable for organizations that use Rally ALM solutions for Agile planning and have a PMO with broad oversight over many programs, as well as those that desire traceability between user stories and issue tracking in development and test cases in QA.

Sync 3.0 also includes the availability of Tasktop Sync for Serena Business Manager (SBM), which acts as the process foundation underpinning Serena's orchestrated ALM solutions. The combined solution extends Serena's business process automation capabilities by integrating SBM with other leading third-party ALM systems.

To further support PPM, Tasktop is extending its Clarity PPM support for organizations that use JIRA's time tracking feature. This allows "time worked on task" to be automatically fed to Clarity PPM from JIRA, enabling the Portfolio Management Office to see how much time is spent on projects tracked by Clarity and helping IT organizations synchronize business priorities with development activities and progress.

Tasktop Sync 3.0 also includes new capabilities designed to simplify and streamline ALM integration work for enterprise organizations that have large deployments and multiple projects. The Tasktop Configuration Templates define configurations of synchronizations that can be reused across many projects, promoting more efficient and rapid deployments. For organizations that want to standardize on specific policies, this also helps enforce policies based on permissions and management parameters established by administrators.

In addition to releasing a new version of Sync, Tasktop launched a beta program for the Tasktop Sync SDK as well as simultaneously releasing the next version of its desktop ALM integration product, Tasktop Dev 3.0.

Rather than compete with leading ALM players, Tasktop leans toward cooperation with these companies and integration with their products. Partners, including CA, HP, IBM and Serena, rely on Tasktop's independent, Switzerland-like role to connect their customers' software delivery disciplines via OEM distributions of the Tasktop products.


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