Archive for June, 2012

Jazz and the Enterprise – Quit thinking “Old School”

Just got back from Innovate, and I ended up talking to about a bazillion people from IBM, our customers, and our business partners.  As usual, it set off a series of observations and ideas in my head, and you’ll probably notice my blog posting tend to increase around this time of year.

One of the things that I notice a lot of our customers struggling with is the whole idea of deploying Jazz to their entire software development organization.  They seem to do very well deploying Jazz to the Agile groups and areas of their organization, and adoption seems to be almost viral up to a certain point.  But eventually deployment always seems to run into issues when we start to expand the scope beyond the first 500 or 1000 users.

The issue isn’t the tools, they scale and we help customers support much larger numbers of end users.  It’s really the tool keepers, and the strategists.  Many people seem to think along the lines of, “We need to help people understand why RTC/RQM/RRC is good for them”.  They seem to think in terms of absolutes, indicating that their entire organization should standardize on RTC for source code management (SCM).  Then they proceed to conclude that since their Agile teams love Jazz SCM capabilities and usage, that ALL of their development teams should love it.

Not so fast people!!  I am part of the Jazz team, and I would LOVE it if you spent all of your budget on Jazz licenses.  That is not realistic, or healthy in many cases.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with leaving your current teams on ClearCase, Subversion, or Perforce. Now if the limitations of those tools are causing you to have an inefficient development, build and delivery process, then you should consider replacing them.   However, if those tools do the job, then leave them in place.  Quit trying to fix problems that don’t exist!

The real strength of the Jazz solution is that you can use OSLC bridges to these tools so their data is linked and available to the rest of the development team and their stakeholders.  That is the real power of the Jazz platform, the ability to integrate in current tools.  Now you can assess if the costs of maintaining the integration, or the costs of supporting multiple tool sets, is worth keeping them around.

The key here is to minimize the risk by taking things in smaller steps.  Do not be too aggressive in your attempts to migrate people from tools and environments that they are comfortable with.  If a critical project is using some particular tool, then please leave them on that tool.  Do not inject risk into an already critical situation.  New projects should be encouraged to use the tools that the organization feels will best suit the needs of the project (and not necessarily the tools administration team), while still maintaining the integrations to the remainder of the software development community via OSLC.

If you do this consistently and with discipline, then you might think that you will eventually get to an environment that is “standard” across your entire organization.  You won’t.

Quit trying to oversimplify your life with a standard “one size fits all” toolset, you are just making it tougher on your individual projects.  This is “old school” thinking about how a standard toolset makes consistent processes easy to implement, and consistent metrics easy to collect.  New tools, methodologies and technologies are constantly injecting themselves into the ecosystem.  Think “new school”, and don’t treat this constant change as a bad thing.  Just acknowledge that it will happen, and leverage your Jazz/OSLC investment to make sure that any new tools/methodologies/technologies will integrate seamlessly into your environment.  With Jazz and OSLC, your teams will remain transparent, collaborative, and you will get consistent reporting and metrics from a potentially diverse set of tools.

Collaboration and Innovation – It’s not all tools

If you are looking for my usual blog posting where I tie some concept to the Jazz platform, and then show or tell you how to realize it with Jazz, then you can quit reading now.  This is more of a general set of observations on collaboration and innovation, which are not really specific to any set of tools or technologies.

I just read an interesting article by Neil deGrasse Tyson, entitled Back to the Final Frontier.  In the article he argues for improved funding and focus on space exploration in the United States.  If you strip out the nationalism for a second (keeping the USA competitive as a superpower), it could really apply to any nation or to the world in general.  He makes the point that true innovation in any discipline comes from EXTERNAL sources.  He uses the microwave oven as an example.  It could never have been invented by a thermodynamic engineer.  Someone that close to the problem would start with what they know (conventional convection ovens), and make improvements in efficiency, design, and operation.  These represent engineering improvements.

True innovation came from the study of radar/radio, and the use of microwaves to heat objects.  This was a completely new approach to the problem of more quickly cooking food, and it came from a discipline that is completely unrelated to normal thermodynamics.  It is a variation of the usual argument that the technologies developed for space travel and exploration often end up having “spin off” applications that greatly benefit society, which more than make up for the research and development costs associated with them.  It is a convincing argument, and one that I find myself in general agreement with.

This is not a review of his article.  What got me thinking was taking some of these concepts around innovation and applying them to my own situation.

People often talk about Jazz as being a platform for more efficient communication and collaboration.  I think that it does do this.  Where the real power in Jazz lies is that in promoting this communication and collaboration, an atmosphere that promotes true innovation is created.  That innovation is where significant economic and social value can be created.

I think that we often get so locked in on creating business cases and justifying decisions, that we lose sight of the fact that software can be a source for innovative new products and services for our customers.  Having a software organization that is confident, transparent, and predictable, can help the business stop worrying about execution, and begin to focus on the identification of new opportunities and new revenue streams.

The Jazz platform can help lead you to this, but I need to make a distinction between the platform, and the tools.  The platform is the core technology, with a REST based architecture, use of linked data, and OSLC integrations.  Notice that I have not mentioned any tools.  As far as the tools are concerned, the Jazz Applications (tools) can include the IBM Jazz products like Rational Team Concert (RTC), Rational Quality Manager (RQM), and Rational Requirements Composer (RRC).  They can also be some non-IBM products, utilizing things like Subversion, Jenkins, Maven, and others.  Many of these non-IBM products now have OSLC wrappers, that allow them to look like OSLC content providers.  Check out some of the OSLC integrations that exist today, and also see what else is being planned.  The list is beginning to get expansive enough to make a unified software development environment a reality for most organizations.

The impact on the end user is that they now have the ability to choose from a mix of tools; some from vendors like IBM, some from other vendors, and some from the open source community.  Utilizing the concept of linked data, and leveraging OSLC, software development teams now can focus on their work, and not have to waste a lot of time and effort in tool evaluation.  Let the teams use what they want.  The rest of the organization will still be able to easily see what those teams are doing, and how they are doing it.

In the bigger picture, this tends to make tools less of a focus, since there is much less energy and drama spent in selecting tools, training users on tools, and worrying about tool vendors.  Tools become what they should be: a means to an end.  What is that end state that we should be worrying about?  Innovation.

Conclusion

In the interests of full disclosure, I work for IBM and I am part of the Jazz development community, so I have a stake in this.  I honestly believe that the Jazz platform is something that should be a “no-brainer” for most software development organizations.  It leads to greater transparency, more collaboration, and better innovation.  Innovation is engine that most companies need to help secure their long term revenue, and maintain their long term viability.  Innovation in the business world is not going to come from within the business world.  True innovation in the business world is going to come from outside sources, and unique disciplines.  Having people who can easily collaborate and communicate is going to fuel the injection of new technologies, new disciplines, and new approaches into the organization.

So quit worrying about the tools – software teams will use what they like.  Instead, you should focus on making the software development platform a springboard for innovation.  Innovation is where significant business value and social value are created, so make sure to keep your eyes focused on the big picture.

Innovate Day 5 – June 7, 2012

Today (Thursday) is the final day of the Innovate 2012 conference.  The last day is always kind of strange.  Some people are focused on attending the final sessions, and getting every last drop of knowledge and value out of the conference.  Others are sitting in the lobby, killing time until they go to the airport to catch their flight home.  Some people just look tired.  There is a definite change in the energy level.

I didn’t have any scheduled talks for today, so most of my day was spent following up on some conversations started earlier in the conference.  I was also able to attend a couple of sessions that I was not directly involved in.  The session on Cool Extensions Using the Rational SDK was excellent.  It should have been.  The presenters were Geoff Clemm and Ralph Schoon, the two highest reputation guys out in the Jazz.net forums.  Ralph is a member of our Jumpstart team, and he is extremely knowledgeable about the Jazz platform.  Both of these guys don’t just sit at a desk and talk about theory, they are constantly interacting with our customers and helping people do things more effectively.  The session was very good, and loaded with content.  The tip on using Plug-In Spy and YARI was a good one.

I also attended a session by one of our other Jumpstart team members, it was on the Enterprise Extensions for zOS, and it was given by Robin Yehle.  During the session, I found that there were a lot of people who were unaware of some of the core capabilities of the enterprise extensions.  The impact analysis capability is not well understood by a lot of people, and it is something that can have a lot of value for many of our customers.

I am finishing up the last day talking to a few specific people, and after that I am done.

Reflections on Innovate

Just some broad observations, information and thoughts about Innovate 2012……

  • Those Jazz.net forums are now quite different.  I am still getting used to using them, and using the tags, but I really like the user interface and some of the social aspects of the new forums.  It is interesting because I have heard people talking about how they need to participate more in the forums for quite a while.  This week I am hearing people talking about building up their reputation on the site, which is great.  More participation will just make the forums much more effective and helpful.
  • People seem to always ask about the Jazz Jumpstart team member blogs.  The new Jazz.net site now has these aggregated, so you can see our new postings out on Planet Jazz.  It’s not just Jazz Jumpstart, you will see blogs from a variety of thought leaders on subjects involving Jazz technology and many of the common issues in the software development community.
  • There is a new community sprouting up on developerWorks, called the Application Lifecycle Management Community.  It is open to anyone, you just need to register and get an IBM ID.  It has a wiki associated with it.  I love areas like this, where people can share tips, code snippets, and other information that will make ALL of us more effective.  I even added a page for sharing information on Jazz Extensions after hearing that session today.  Check it out, and share links to your favorite resources with the rest of the Jazz Community.
  • In general, I find the conference is a great way to meet people and learn.  I find that the most valuable types of interactions seem to happen in many of the small group discussions that I have during the conference.  I would love to see us encourage more of these small group discussions in the future.

Quote of the Day

“Seaworld was fun, but I don’t think that was really Foreigner.  Those guys were too young…”

Innovate Day 4 – June 6, 2012

Today was consumed primarily with the delivery of the Jazz Administration Workshop.  The workshop was the most popular one of the conference, in terms of the number of people requesting to be able to attend.  Unfortunately we did hit some technical snags with the resources available to us on site.  Students can still run through the labs on their own, in their own environments, since the workshop begins from a “bare metal” configuration.

In talking to some of our customers, I have seen an interesting trend in the support of our solutions begin to emerge.  Many of the people that I talked to are attempting to better serve the needs of their organizations by driving tools administration and infrastructure support closer to their internal customers.  They are moving away from a single, central tools administration team for the Enterprise, and instead are creating smaller tool support teams within their various business units.

Many customers are finding that they waste too much time trying to please a variety of internal stakeholders, and that this is slowing adoption of new methods and technologies in their development environments.  So I am seeing customers move to deployments of several instances of CLM, one within each business unit, rather than one single instance supporting the Enterprise.

The key point seems to be getting multiple different business units to agree on a core set of software development process and software development metrics.  This is understandable since in many cases these business units are doing very different things and operating in very different business environments.

I am not opposed or supportive of this trend, it just struck me and I felt the urge to call it out.  What is YOUR organization’s approach to supporting the Jazz technologies, and the rest of your software development infrastructure?  Are you moving to a single central team to provide support for the enterprise, or are you moving towards a model where the individual lines of business each have their own implementations and support?

Innovate Day 3 – June 5, 2012

It’s Tuesday, the day where I have the least amount of free time.  Most of this time was spent talking to individual customers facing a variety of different challenges.  I got questions about our new CLM 2012 capabilities, deploying Jazz to an organization, using OSLC to support multiple tools, and a bunch of other topics.  I hope that the people that I talked to found these discussions informative.

In the afternoon, I did a presentation on Enterprise Deployments with Grant Covell.  Grant is a great guy to work with, and presenting with him is always fun.  The crowd was a bit smaller than I would have liked, but we had some good questions.  I get the feeling that people would like to see us come up with a set of standard topologies and recommendations for how to deploy Jazz to their organization.  You are in luck, since one of the Jumpstart team members (David Chadwick) was recently working with a group of people (including Grant), that have produced a set of Standard CLM Topologies.  It’s a great article, be sure to check it out.

After that presentation, I got to go and see CLM Deployment Tips and Tricks, presented by Ralph Schoon, who is also a member of the Jumpstart team.  You have probably encountered Ralph at some point in your Jazz usage, since he is the second ranked user in the Jazz forums (in terms of reputation points).  Ralph is a great guy, and his presentation was very good.  There were a lot of questions from the audience, and he and Fariz Saracevic did a great job addressing those questions.

Just realized that I am name dropping all over the place in this post.  Sorry, but there are so many people with so many ideas here, and I want to make sure that they all get the credit that they deserve.

Quote of the Day

When asked what type of development process they use, one customer replied to me, “We use a scrumerfall process….”.  That was a new term for me, I have heard of “Wagile”, but not “Scrumerfall”.

Innovate Day 2 – June 4, 2012

During the days of presentations during Innovate, I get to do small meetings with specific customers.  Often these meetings can be quite enlightening, as I am able to learn more how how people currently use our Jazz solutions, and more importantly, how they WANT to use our Jazz solutions.

During these four days, I also get to do my presentations and participate in the presentations given by members of the Jumpstart team, the Jazz development team, and our customers.  On Monday this year, I only had to participate in a roundtable discussion in the Red Carpet Lounge, hosted by the AVP team.  I did this with Grant Covell, who is great to talk to.  I always find myself learning something new about performance testing and Jazz performance whenever I get a chance to interact with Grant.  It was an interesting session, and there were some questions about our new clustering capabilities.  We wanted to clarify the fact that clustering is ONLY for support of high availability (HA) configurations.

In my customer meetings I am hearing some concern about how to balance the need for a common process, with the need for individual projects to be able to make project specific changes to the process (adding attributes, enumerations, etc.).  We had some good conversations, and these conversations should help us refine our requirements in this area.

I also enjoyed one of the afternoon sessions where we discussed some of the great things that the products can extend and cover.  A lot of this had to do with extending our existing capabilities and providing even more planning functionality and capability.  The ideas were really good, and I really appreciate the open and honest conversations that we had with some of our customers today.

Quote of the Day

Had a tie for first place today.  There was, “The tools were great for their time, but that was last century…”, and “You could deploy the reports, but it required replacing the worn out mouse once you were done”.

Innovate 2012 – The First Day

The Innovate Conference is always informative and interesting for me.  I find the first day of the conference always provides me with some surprises.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with how Innovate works, the first day is Sunday.  Many think that this consists mainly of the Welcome Reception on Sunday evening.  What REALLY happens during the first day of Innovate is a series of sessions called VoiCE sessions.

These VoiCE sessions are interactive sessions where we discuss with our customers what the next set of capabilities for our tools and solutions should be.  These are great sessions with a framework, but with a lot of free flowing discussion about the challenges that we face as a development team, and the challenges that our customers have.  If you have the chance to attend a VoiCE session, be prepared to share your experiences and the major challenges that you face.

During the morning, I spent some time in a session that was targeted on the concept of Project Move capability in Jazz.  It was a great session, and you can see my notes from the Project Move session out on the Jazz Forum.  Take a look and feel free to add your own comments and concerns.

The afternoon session was a more general session on RTC, headed up by Rolf Nelson.  I heard a lot of comments from customers around some general areas:

  • Enterprise concerns – how do I architect and deploy my Jazz solution so it will scale to support the number of users that I may need to support?
  • Rollout concerns – we have the tools and we like them, but we are running into issues in having teams adopt the solution, migrate to the solution, or use the solution in a highly effective manner right away.  Tim Gallagher of Intel had a very good discussion on this topic.
  • Adoption of Software Development methodologies/Usage Models – our teams want to adopt Agile, but still seem rooted to their old waterfall mentality.  They might also  have some unique types of Agile processes in place that we need to support.

Jared Burns and Kai-Uwe Maetzel led a very good conversation about how process templates are used in CLM 2012, and the newest functionality available in CLM 2012.  This led to a conversation on what our customers are looking for in the areas of process inheritance, project templatization, and work item template improvements (work item templates for everyone!).

John Camelon then went into some SCM Deep Dive issues.  We discussed selective merging and the merging around “gaps”, as well as the deletion of objects in the SCM system, disconnected configuration management, version and change set identifiers, and new user usability issues.  This was a more subdued session, but there were some very good observations during this session, especially around version and change set identifiers, and finding change sets.

At this point I decided to post up my notes from this first day of Innovate.  If anything interesting happens this evening, I will have to write about it tomorrow.

Quote of the Day

One gentleman (whose name I will not divulge) had the quote of the day.  During the introductions for a session, he announced his name and company, and then made the statement, “I am a recovering ClearCase Administrator”.  The whole room laughed.


No Nonsense Tech Talk Member

These are my PERSONAL views and observations

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's position, strategies or opinions. Anyone is free to use, copy, distribute, modify or sell the source code and other materials directly linked from dtoczala.wordpress.com and is provided "as is" without warranties. I am not responsible for any harm or damage caused to your computer, software or anything else caused by the material.

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