Blog

Making a Case for ALM Integration Platform

Integrated ALM today is also known as End-To-End ALM in some vendor literatures and websites. However, fulfilling this promise by various vendors using point-to-point integration architecture has been patchy at best. In this paper, we will focus on a new integration technology – ALM Integration Platform for achieving an Integrated ALM for a mixed vendor tools environment.

In a software development process, various tools are used both for managing the development process as well as for the actual creation, testing, building and deployment of software code. Following is a list of such tools some of which are generic (e.g. Document Management) and some are very specific to software development (e.g. Debugger/ Profiler):

Multi-Vendor Best of Breed Integrated ALM Tools by ALM  Platform

Taking a cue from the integration solutions in other industries, most notably financial software, the concept of Integration Platform addresses all the requirements of Integrated ALM squarely and brings some unique benefits to a development organization. Integration Platform consists of software components that connect disparate software applications. It consists of a set of services that allows multiple processes running on one or more machines to interact. ALM Integration Platform is the glue software between varieties of different tools used throughout application development lifecycle. It mediates between ALM tools in a number of ways to achieve transformation and routing of data, propagation of change impact by relating data from one tool to another, orchestration of software development lifecycle process flows and integrated reporting.

The ALM Integration technology is based on Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) architecture, which has some distinct advantages over any point-to-point integration architecture. Using ALM Platform in an Integrated Tools environment, a development group should look forward to achieving the following benefits of integrations:

View artifacts managed by one Tool from another Tool

This is the first goal of any integration. Examples include list of Testcases from the Requirements Management Tool and Requirements from the Testcase Management Tool, or list of design objects from the IDE. The benefit is even higher when multiple artifacts are accessible from a single tool.

Create relationships between artifacts for traceability with change impact analysis

ALM platform makes it simple to create Traceability relation between artifacts from various tools. In case of Point-to-point integration where without a central framework only two tools are integrated at a time, there is no way to visualize and manipulate Traceability relations of three or more Artifacts in a single interface. But for ALM platform, a central framework allows flexible ways of creating and managing these relationships among multiple (more than a pair of) tools. Moreover, due to its flexibility in relationship management, ALM integration platform promotes multi-tool proactive and reactive change impact analysis.

Example includes traceability relation between a Requirement in Requirements Management Tool and Testcase in the Test Management Tool; so that when the Requirement changes in one tool the Testcase in the other tool will be flagged for impact.

Automate a process cutting across the tool boundaries and implement a complete ALM lifecycle without a break

Typically, Implementing SDLC Processes for multi-tool ALM requires discipline of individual participants. Such a manual implementation of the process fails after a short time when individuals do not follow it due to high overhead and high cost of retraining for each small change. ALM integration platform, with its built-in process automation capability has a unique advantage of creating a cross tools process and automating that for a transparent no-overhead implementation with a much larger success potential. The typical example is a Requirement that starts life in a Requirements Management tool, is reviewed and approved by stakeholders in a Project Management tool, is implemented by a developer in an IDE, and tested by testers in a Test Management tool. ALM Platform automates the whole process for all these users even when they are using different tools and may be based at different locations.

Manage Projects and Resources across the tools

For development managers, it has always been a vexing question to answer ‘For a set of Requirements, Changes and Defects what will be the Release date given a set of Resources?’ Alternatively, the questions can be posed as ‘Given a set of Resources and a Release date, what Requirements, Changes and Defects can we put in this release?’ or ‘Given a Release date and a set of Requirements, Changes and Defects, what kind of resources do we need?’ We can make it even more complex by incorporating design and modeling objects, test automation and other ALM artifacts in the mix. Since the artifacts involved are managed by various tools, only an Integrated ALM system will be able to handle this question.

Create Cross tools Analytics and Dashboards

A Project manager’s assessment regarding the health of a particular development project can be massively flawed unless he/she takes into account the activities in all the tools involved. Analytics and reporting across various tools is very important at different levels including that of the CxO.

Once ALM Integration Platform has all the artifacts and meta information about the artifacts (e.g. not just the Requirement but the information about the Requestor, Type, Priority, Approval status, Approver, Lifecycle status…) in its repository either by replication (where the artifact information is replicated to ALM Platform repository) or federation (where the tool data is retrieved on demand, avoiding  replication), one can create all sorts of dashboard metrics and reports for those data in real-time. These reports give valuable insight about the whole cross-tool process, which is often impossible or difficult to get.

For example, an Integrated ALM system should be able to produce a Test compliance report for the end customer, which shows the list of Customer Requirements, Change Requests and Issues, traced to Testcases and individual Test runs. And finally, the Test run results should show that they have all passed. To produce a report like this requires retrieving information from various tools including Requirements Management, Issues/ Change Management, Test Management and Test Automation.

Significantly simpler development

To use an example of 10 tools development environment, the ESB architecture needs 10 adapters, just one per tool. This is substantially less than 45 custom integrations between every pair of tools, necessary for point-to-point architecture. Moreover, to add a new tool to this tools environment needs addition of just one adapter, a far cry from coding of 10 integration codes for point-to-point architecture to achieve the same level of integration.

Protect Investments

ALM integration platform is based on a standard set of web service based APIs. Without any special requirement on the tools, ALM Integration Platform can integrate tools from different vendors, including internally developed tools. This means all the tool investments by a development organization are protected.

Best Tools for Best Functions

ALM platform allows integration of multiple tools from different vendors for the same function. For example, Requirements Management may be covered by any combination of tools from IBM/ Rational (Requisite Pro, DOORS, Requirements Composer), Microfocus/ Borland (Caliber-RM). What is even better, it can support simultaneous usage of multiple tools from multiple vendors in a single tools ecosystem. This allows organizations to select the best tools available in the market without locking themselves in a single vendor solution.

Flexibility of Integration Business Rules

Integration business rules change over time for various reasons including changes in business conditions, group dynamics, and development methodologies. For example, how the Requirements will be replicated from Requisite Pro to Quality Center so that the Traceability relation created in Quality Center may change over time. ALM Platform allows creation and management of these rules independent of the individual tool adapters. Unlike point-to-point integrations where the logic is hard coded in the integration codes, integration adapters do not have any embedded business rules. This eliminates the necessity of development resources for changing the integration codes and reduces the change implementation time drastically from weeks to hours.

Conclusions

In this paper, we have discussed that the method of ALM platform is a suitable method for implementing Integrated ALM in organizations having or needing multiple vendor tools.

Kovair has the ALM platform technology called Omnibus Integration platform, which is the leading integration technology in the ALM industry today. For more information about Kovair’s Omnibus technology please visit www.kovair.com or contact sales@kovair.com.

Each tool name used in this paper is the registered trademark of the corresponding tool vendor.