Rallying Around Agile Development

Rally Software pushes agile development with new offerings and community efforts.

WASHINGTON—Rally Software Development, which builds agile software life cycle management solutions, is promoting the adoption of agile development processes in the mainstream with new products and services.

At the Agile conference here Aug. 13, Rally announced Agile University and Agile Commons, two new online resources that provide developers with access to global agile training, knowledge and a new Web community to learn and share experiences with peers. In addition, Rally announced the availability of Rally Community Edition, a free product that, combined with the new online resources, helps software and corporate development teams adopt and scale agile practices.

Agile University is an online portal that provides a single source for information and registration of public agile training courses taught by some the industrys leading agile development coaches, Rally officials said. Agile University also offers a solution for independent agile trainers by providing logistics, registration and promotional services for their courses. The Agile University course schedule and registration information is available at www.agileuniversity.org.

Agile Commons is a Web 2.0 community that encourages agile software development community members to interact and exchange knowledge. During a two-month beta program, Agile Commons participants created more than 100 areas of discussion and contributed more than 1,000 posts and comments, Rally officials said. Agile practitioners can learn more at www.agilecommons.org.

"Web 2.0s interfaces and its emphasis on participation provide powerful drivers for users to help themselves and each other," said Dana Gardner, an analyst at Interarbor Solutions. "By facilitating open and authentic communication among vendors, their customers and their ecosystem, Agile Commons is forming the collaboration glue between people, process and technology."

"With Agile Commons, Rally has opened itself up to an ongoing dialogue to help its customers be successful," said Chris Anderson, manager of software processes at Lulu.com, an online independent publishing marketplace. "Ive been able to get answers to technical questions, participate in a dialogue about upcoming features, and ultimately place votes to impact prioritization of those features. This is paramount to our business as our needs rapidly evolve."

Meanwhile, Rally Community Edition is a free, 10-seat subscription to Rallys agile life cycle management tools. The company is positioning this edition as an alternative to open-source tools because it enables teams to engage in agile development pilots in a no-cost, low burden SAAS (software as a service) environment and easily scale up to more advanced features as needed through paid subscriptions to Rally Program and Rally Enterprise. Registration for Rally Community Edition is available at www.rallydev.com.

In addition, on Aug. 9, Rally announced several new integrations for its offerings that enable organizations to leverage their existing development infrastructures, including new enterprise features to help organizations adopt and scale agile practices.

The new integration connectors include ones for development tools, such as Subversion for source code control, and the Eclipse and Microsoft Visual. Rally also delivered connectors for quality assurance and testing tools, such as Bugzilla and Jira for defect tracking; Mercury Quality Center for testing; Fitnesse and JUnit for acceptance and unit testing; Seapine TestTrack Pro for defect tracking; and Ant, CruiseControl and Maven for continuous integration and build.

In addition, Rally, of Boulder, Colo., announced connectors with collaboration and project/portfolio management tools, including Microsoft SharePoint for enterprise collaboration; Microsoft Project for project and portfolio management; and Skype, Yahoo IM, Google Talk, Jabber and AOL IM for enterprise collaboration.

These integrations are available starting at $19 a month.

Ryan Martens, co-founder and chief technology officer, said Rally is his third startup. He sold his last company, Avitek, to BEA Systems in 1999. He then spent time with BEA heading up the companys portal development before founding Rally and delivering its initial offerings in 2004.

"We were using agile and extreme programming at Avitek," Martens said. When BEA acquired the company, Martens said he took along some of the agile practices that Avitek had been using. "We were putting stuff into production in six to eight weeks" at Avitek, he said.

Martens said the move to start Rally was hastened by the notion that agile development was becoming more mainstream.

"We put out our first release in May 2004, and weve been a SAAS solution since inception," he said. "Its a multitenant application just like Salesforce.com and theres one instance of the software. We operate at greater than 99 percent uptime."

Rally has more than 7,500 subscribers and has seen more than 6,500 agile software releases delivered on the product, Martens said. He said more than 50 percent of the top software companies in the industry have used Rallys technology for agile development, including Microsoft, Oracle, BMC Software, BEA, Yahoo, Sun and others.

"The first market segment to go after agile was the ISVs," Martens said. After that, other market sectors that have been quick to adopt agile development have included financial services, insurance and the telecommunications industry.

Asked which agile development schemes seem to be most prevalent, Martens said it seems to be like a layer cake.

"At the bottom of the scale, most people get into the XP [extreme programming] stuff," Martens said. "At the project level with mid-level managers its Scrum."

Overall, the principles are pretty similar, he said. "The words are different, but were all saying the same thing," he said.

Martens said agile development could be of particular importance with Web 2.0 companies, where the pace of change is accelerated.

"If you cant go out with a feature in four to six weeks, you might miss out on an opportunity," he said.

When Rally initially gets involved with a customer, "we typically spend two days with you talking about how to roll out an agile strategy," Martens said.

Moreover, once companies open up to an agile development strategy, "people usually give this [agile development] the hardest project. Thats usually where we start because the gains can be so dramatic."


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