Oracle Delves into ALM

As part of its Oracle Fusion Middleware 11g launch, Oracle adds an application lifecycle management solution to its developer tool set to enable teams of developers to work together more effectively. Oracle Team Productivity Center has what one exec calls a unique approach to ALM.

Making good on its promise, Oracle has added an application lifecycle management solution to its developer tool set to enable teams of developers to work together more effectively.

As part of its Oracle Fusion Middleware 11g announcement on July 1, the database giant announced Oracle TPC (Team Productivity Center), an ALM solution that sets Oracle up for greater competition in the tools space against the likes of IBM Rational, Microsoft and others, as eWEEK initially reported in 2007.

Indeed, Oracle TPC will compete with components of IBM Rational's Jazz and Jazz-based offerings, Microsoft's VSTS (Visual Studio Team System), and TFS (Team Foundation Server), among other technologies from companies like Borland Software, Serena Software, AccuRev, MKS and others. Yet, despite having a captive audience in its installed base, by entering the ALM space as a Johnny-come-lately, Oracle has a challenge ahead in taking on the likes of IBM and Microsoft.

To read more about the Oracle Fusion Middleware 11g launch, click here.

In a Q&A session with reporters, Ted Farrell, chief architect and senior vice president of Tools and Middleware for Oracle, said, "Our ALM strategy is a best-of-breed strategy where we focus on adding functionality into the design time. Team Productivity Center is focused on bringing team members together."

Farrell said unlike makers of competing solutions, "We don't require you to use our server; we allow you to use what you have. I think it's a very unique sort of approach because customers have a lot of open-source, home grown and commercial software" in their IT environments.

Oracle TPC is an ALM tool that allows software development teams to collaborate and work productively together through the development of software code applications using JDeveloper, Oracle said. It provides a Connector Framework to enable third-party ALM repositories-such as task and project management, version control, document management, software bug reporting and management systems, and build systems-to be integrated with JDeveloper, enabling users to directly interact with their existing ALM artifacts while working in Oracle JDeveloper.

Essentially, TPC brings ALM tools directly where developers need it: in the IDE (integrated development environment). TPC includes an extensible server component with prebuilt connectors to popular products used in the software development life cycle such as Atlassian's Jira, Microsoft Project and offerings from Rally Software. TPC also provides a JDeveloper extension to integrate the various life-cycle management and collaboration tools into the IDE.

In a blog post on Oracle TPC, Product Manager Susan Duncan of Oracle's UK operation said:

"In a world where software development teams work across organizations, time zones, cultures and business functions they need ALM pieces that are closely integrated and lead to better productivity.Oracle Team Productivity Center in JDeveloper will facilitate this productive team working and collaboration through the integration of your existing ALM assets plus additional centralized and customizable services and collaboration."

In another post, Duncan added:

"TPC introduces the Team Navigator to JDeveloper. Through this navigator I can set up my team and user structure, applying team roles to users in teams/projects. I can connect to my existing ALM repositories and query/update artifacts in those repositories while working in JDeveloper."

Duncan also said Oracle's aim is to extend TPC capability beyond the developer, much like IBM Rational and Microsoft have been doing with their ALM tools. Said Duncan: "This release of TPC concentrates on enabling JDeveloper users, but [ALM] is about more than just developers-it has a role in breaking down functional silos (development, QA, Doc, PM ... ) and it's our aim to push TPC out to more than developers going forward-both in terms of increased services provided by TPC and increasing the number of connectors available to differing ALM repositories (requirements, task, defects, testing, etc)."