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August 29, 2005

Serena: a step closer to the holy grail

Version 5.6 of Serena's RTM application life cycle offering adds new links to the company's change management and problem resolution/issue tracking tools. Additionally, it adds a polling feature to the web client, enabling team members through the web interface to indicate their opinions via email on whether a change to requirements should be made.

By CBR Staff Writer

Serena Software is taking the first steps to link its application life cycle tools.

Specifically, RTM 5.6 links to Serena’s ChangeMan Dimensions team-based source code control tool and TeamTrack, the issue-tracking tool. Using the new links, a change to a requirement generates concurrent updates to the issue tracking and source code control tools and vice versa. Or when a software bug is discovered by issue-tracking, a message can be generated to alert and populate requirements and version control. The kinks are two-way.

Like most other life cycle tools companies, Serena assembled its suite through acquisition. Starting with a mainframe-based source code and version control tool, it acquired Merant, which has long been known for the desktop PVCS and team-based Dimensions client/server source code control tools. And then it acquired RTM from Integrated Chipware, an aerospace contractor.

Consequently, to unify its tools, Serena has developed a federated approach that uses its own communications middleware to replicate changes to the meta engines controlling each tool. To ensure that the systems are not bogged down with the overhead of constantly communicating changes, customers can set thresholds on how often to update, and at what level of severity or change.

That’s why integration uses a federated approach that is also used by rivals, like Rational, who have also acquired their suites piece by piece. To date, MKS, which started with source code control, is the only life cycle vendor building out its suite organically from a single engine (it now has issue tracking and recently added requirements).

Linking the processes has long been a holy grail of software development. Although many of the hurdles have been technical, in most software organizations, cultural divides between analysts, architects, developers, and testers have also prevented more effective life cycle integration.

But the demands for greater productivity, tight budgets, the threat of offshore development, and improvements in technology have pushed life cycle integration to the front burner for customers and their tools providers.

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