Innovate 2010 – A Jazz Insider Diary

(Note: I updated the links on July 28, 2010.  Blog originally posted on June 6, 2010)

I wanted to give people a sense for what happens behind the scenes at the annual IBM/Rational user conference, Innovate 2010. It might help explain some of the things that you missed at the conference, and give you some insight into how an event like this can be valuable to both IBM and it’s customers. I hope nobody screams at me for this “unauthorized” communication…… In the weeks leading up to the conference, I spent time preparing for my session on Agile Planning for IT and the workshop on Jazz Extensibility and the OSLC. I was sidetracked by some very good articles that provided an overview of the various different Agile variants (I posted links to these on my Jazz Links page), as well as a sample Jazz Administration Guide that I prepared for (Note: I will update the link once the document “goes live”). The toughest part of the preparations is that we are pulling together materials for presentations that will help our customers, while still doing our daily jobs of helping customers. Like most things in life, it is a balancing act. I also have been seeing more demand for information on how to integrate and extend Jazz. Luckily I will be able to answer a lot of those questions with the Jazz Extensions and OSLC Workshop (written by Steve Wasleski, Philippe Krief, and Steve Speicher) that we will be running on Monday at the conference. There seems to be more energy and excitement building around Jazz in the past few months. The rest of my time has been spent checking logistics. Do I have everything I need? Will my family be OK while I am gone for a week? Do I have a ride to the airport?

Saturday June 5

Spent most of my time today in meetings preparing for the conference. Then I spent some time with a fellow team member (Philippe) checking out our lab environment for our OSLC and Extnesions lab being held on Monday. I spent a lot of time today talking to IBM people about Jazz in general, and some of the more common misconceptions about the Jazz technology. Our Jumpstart team is scattered around the globe, and meeting my teammates face to face for the first time was great. We are all so used to collaborating via Jazz, concalls and web sessions. It nice to be able to put a real face to the voices over the phone.

Sunday June 6

I have to apologize in advance for this blog posting. Due to the sensitive nature of some of the presentations being done this year, I cannot talk about EVERYTHING that I am going through this week. The problem is that I run the risk of sounding like a Jazz cheerleader. I really like the technology, and the promise that it holds for software development, but it really doesn’t mean anything unless our customers are able to use Jazz technology to make them more effective, more productive, more efficient, and more innovative. I spent most of the day in a Collaborative ALM workshop, which takes customers on a trip through an integrated set of Jazz tools, from Rational Requirements Manager (RRC), to Rational Team Concert (RTC), and Rational Quality Manager (RQM). I like doing these workshops because it is good to hear the comments and see the reactions from people who are seeing the Jazz technology for the first time. One of the people I sat with today had some very good onservations on the value that Jazz can bring. He is a CIO for one of our major Jazz customers, and his observations were really valuable, since they helped me better understand an Executive perspective on the value Jazz has brought to our customers. I then spent the night with some other members of the Jazz team going over our demo image of the Jazz products in the current development build. This stuff is really nice. It took me awhile to get my particular image going since I was running on Ubuntu (the rest of the team runs on MacOS or Windows). The funny part is that I ended up using a set of windows install bits! I reworked the launch scripts, and repointed to my native JVM, which took me about 15 minutes. It wouldn’t launch for me. It then took me a couple of hours (until 1am) to figure out that I needed to change the settings in the /etc/security/limits.conf file. I changed them to the setting below, and everything worked.

tomcat_user hard nofile 15000
tomcat_user soft nofile 15000

Now I am ready for tomorrow.

Monday June 7

We ran our OSLC and Jazz Extensions workshop this morning. I was pleased to see that our session was fairly full, and we had a lot of good questions and comments about OSLC and extending Jazz. We felt that the class went well, but feedback from any of our attendees is always welcome.  If you have ideas for different Jazz extensions that you have developed, or would like to see developed, please let me know. I am hoping to get some good real-world examples from our customers that I can share.

I have also spent a lot of time today answering questions about our approach to Collaborative Lifecycle Management (CLM).  It seems to be a really hot topic this year, as our customers want to be able to unite their teams with a common framework that allows tracability from requirements, to test artifacts, to defects, and to the team plans and work items in place to execute on those plans.  What makes it compelling to me is the way that transparency and visibility allows teams to collaborate and perform better.  This transparency also implies a high degree of accountability, which many organizations struggle with.

Tuesday June 8

Long day today, as I spent all of my day either in the Jazz Cafe, the Solutions Center, or giving my presentation on Agile Planning for IT (sorry, link will only work for Innovate attendees). The audience had some good questions, and seemed to be struggling with the most with story points.  That is the relationship between story points (used to provide an estimate, representing complexity), and time estimates (used to estimate effort).  I tried to explain the difference as best I could, but for those of you that I just confused, here are some links to some more eloquent speakers on the subject.

I hope that I was able to share some of the experiences that I have had with a wide variety of organizations, and that my attendees felt that their time was well spent.

Wednesday June 9

It has been a long week, but my last full day at Innovate 2010 has come to an end.  I am really tired, it seems like I have been talking non-stop for the past four days.  I prefer listening to talking, you learn more that way.  I met more people today who had the same questions about story points vs. hours when doing Agile estimation.  I really prefer story points, but I understand why people get confused.

I thas been a great week, and Ionly wish that I had been able to make some more sessions given by some of our customers on their “lessons learned” from deploying and using Jazz based products.  The customers that I did talk to seemed pleased with how the tools had been helping them drive culture change (to an more Agile philosophy) within their organizations.  It is one of those benefits that you never see in a business case, but it can have a real impact.

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