Borland Brings Management to ALM

Borland Software Corp.'s new Borland Management Solutions (BMS) emphasize the "management" portion of Application Lifecycle Management (ALM).

Borland Software Corp. has announced a new set of solutions to better track, measure and improve software delivery processes.

The new Borland Management Solutions (BMS) are based on the Borland Open Application Lifecycle Management (Open ALM) Framework, and plugs into a customer's existing ALM tooling infrastructure, providing an ALM management "cockpit" that gives unprecedented visibility and control over the entire application lifecycle, Borland officials said.

"When we talk to customers we see there is a level of frustration in managing their software delivery process -- they view it as a black box, they can't track things and they feel like it's out of control," said Rick Jackson, Borland's chief marketing officer and senior vice president of corporate strategy.

Jackson added that most ALM tools available today are "focused on automating a specific phase of the lifecycle. There is no end-to-end product for the problems of the overall lifecycle."

Added Jackson: "Every other business function has visibility and control over its operations, and now with BMS, software delivery organizations can benefit from that same discipline. This is not just another ALM tool; it is the first application for IT executives to run the business process of delivering software."

Borland Management Solutions include three products and a set of service packages.

The first product is TeamDemand, which aligns software delivery efforts with business priorities. The TeamDemand offering provides a view into the IT organization. It enables business users to have visibility into and to collaborate with IT to make informed decisions about how IT is handling their needs, Borland officials said. And TeamDemand links directly with ALM artifacts such as requirements, user stories and tasks.

The second BMS component is TeamFocus, which manages the execution and monitors the performance of the software delivery organization. TeamFocus is a project management and execution environment that supports multiple software development methodologies, including Agile, waterfall, iterative and others, said Chuck Maples, vice president of application development at Borland.

The third component of BMS is TeamAnalytics, which automatically collects and analyzes current and historic data from a broad set of ALM tools. TeamAnalytics business intelligence includes a configurable set of interactive dashboards.

"TeamAnalytics is the first BI [business intelligence] application for ALM," Jackson said. "You can do historical and trend analysis. You can look at trend and current progress and it becomes a rich management experience," he said. Moreover, "this is all tied directly to the software delivery lifecycle for ALM tools and the repository."

Jackson said the BMS offering is "the first software delivery management platform that sits on top of a heterogeneous ALM environment."

Some Borland enterprise customers have been using the Borland Management Solutions as part of an early access program.

"Our teams - which are spread across the globe - use more than 20 different methodologies and tools to deliver our extensive portfolio of products," said Dave Schwarber, senior director of global product development for Cincom Systems, which has had early access to BMS. "We know how to build and ship high quality software. But to stay competitive, we are constantly looking for ways to improve the management of our processes so we can deliver more predictably."

In addition, Borland's own software delivery organization has been using the products for more than a year.

"I use the BMS project overview to start my day," Maples said. "It shows me which projects are coming close to release, where they stand as far as tracking to plan, defect rates, test coverage -- everything I need to know. But, the best part is the time savings. In the past, I would spend two weeks working with my directors to gather status information and create a PowerPoint deck for our monthly operations reviews. Then, inevitably, I'd be presenting a deck full of outdated information. Now, I have that information at my fingertips - all the time."

Meanwhile, Jackson said the Open ALM Framework provides a bi-directional linking service that allows users to view and manipulate assets and information in their native ALM repositories, through the BMS products. This approach, called SAME or Single Asset Multiple Environments, differentiates Borland Management Solutions by preventing the problems of data duplication and synchronization across tools, and is designed to support globally distributed development, Borland officials said.

In the process of creating BMS, Borland itself moved more and more to an agile development approach, Maples said.

"At Agile's core is a process that seeks more predictable delivery schedules, higher quality products and greater user satisfaction," Maples said. "We made the decision that to be a more agile business; we needed to run a more agile software delivery organization."

Bola Rotibi, an analyst at Macehiter Ward-Dutton, said: "Software delivery is notoriously complex, and the process of improvement is rife with challenges. The pressure is on for IT organizations to deliver software as a managed business process that is both efficient and predictable. Solutions that provide this and create the transparency needed for information-sharing and intelligence will be well placed for restoring confidence to both the delivery team and the business."

Jackson said Borland is well ahead of other solutions in terms of managing the software delivery process. For instance, IBM's Jazz "is focused on tools integration, but the Open ALM Framework is coming at this from a top-down management approach," he said. We are less about integrating the tools and more about integrating the management platform."

Meanwhile, BMS is distinct from what Microsoft is doing with its ALM strategy "because Microsoft is trying to unify the entire ALM approach, but .NET does not scale well to heterogeneous enterprises," Jackson said. "They're still missing the management pieces we're delivering. There are a lot of holes in Microsoft's solution. Microsoft is weak in test management, requirements management and demand management," to name a few areas, he said.

For its part, in line with its open strategy, Borland will be delivering connectors for many of the primary ALM tools in the market, including those from HP, IBM and Microsoft. In addition, Borland has initiated a connector partner program and is already working with early partners, including RingZero and Dunn Solutions, to help design an Open Connector Software Development Kit (SDK) to build connectors to other ALM tools as well as custom tools that may exist within a customer's infrastructure, Borland officials said.

The Borland Management Solutions are slated to be generally available in the fall of 2008.