What is the best change management tool for IBM i?

IBM i

Mar 16

Today’s SCM (Software Change Management) systems are as focused on productivity gains for the programmer as they are on “controlling” or managing the source and objects. Anything that can be done to make programmers more effective and more efficient in their development process is a very worthy investment. Quite a few tools fit into this space on the IBM I operating system – each has its benefits and it’s downfalls. Lets review a few:

IBM i Change Management Software Review

Software configuration management (SCM) is an umbrella term that has come to mean a wide range of automation functions for application development all SCM product features have potential benefits and other functions that may require changes to your business practice.

The Big Three

What follows is a listing of products that provide SCM functions for IBM-i application development.

IMHO, the three big players are:

  • Turnover V100 – SoftLanding Systems (acquired by Unicom in 2010)
  • Aldon LMe– Aldon Computer Group (acquired by Rocket Software group in March 2011)
  • Implementor – MKS Inc (acquired by PTC in May 2011)

These vendors are the heavy hitters in the IBM-I arena and all have Eclipse user-interface plug-ins for their solutions, which can integrate with IBM’s WDSC and RD-i.

The basics are all the same, Checkout, Compile, Promote, Test, Reject, and Promote. Each product handles things like Triggers, OVRDBF’s, Object Pre-checking, Concurrent Development and object Security. Each product conforms to Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL), Capability Maturity Model Integrated (CMMI) and Sarbanes-Oxley guidelines.

The Change management foundation provides facilities for managing multiple releases and concurrent development across more than one computer platform. Rememeber projects don’t just start and end, they have maintenance releases.

TURNOVER V100

SoftLanding Systems, Unicom.

Turnover manages both new development and modifications very smoothly. It is intuitive and can be configured to be as tight or as loose, as simple or as complex as needs dictate. It comes with a 5250 menu system and also a Windows based V100 client with many time saving enhancements.

Turnover Change Management defines and supports repeatable procedures for developing, deploying, and maintaining IBM-i, web, and multi platform applications. Features include integrated workflow, issue tracking, project management, change management, version control, a cross-reference database, and multi platform deployment. Turnover also provides a variety of plug-in’s for WDSc and other eclipse-based IDE’s and modules that extend Turnover to PC, Java, and web development projects: The programmer is 100% free to choose whatever IDE (Eclipse, VAJ, Websphere, etc) and whatever Version Management (PVCS, SourceSafe, CVS, etc) they want to manage the “front end” of this process. Turnover takes these objects from where ever they are and promotes them in a managed and tracked fashion to where ever you want them to go.

This means you can promote native IBM-i code and PC changes together in the same all-or-nothing promotion. The product has strong tools for customizing workflows and reports, and is capable of supporting highly regulated processes.

Regardless of the technologies they use, most developers wish they could spend more time programming, and less time doing all that “other stuff” — like finding the right source, checking dependencies or constantly sending status updates to managers and end users.

TURNOVER® for iSeries v100 liberates developers by automating the less interesting parts of their jobs via interfaces designed for optimum productivity in their preferred environment. From one screen, they can review their tasks, analyze what needs to be changed, make and test changes, and prepare a change for promotion and deployment. Because all interfaces access the same database, they can switch user interfaces at will and never worry about losing work.

If your 5250 developers plan to move to WDSC, you’ll appreciate how much TURNOVER® for iSeries v100 shortens the learning curve. With TURNOVER® for iSeries v100, the process, automation, and organization you use in 5250 translate directly into the WDSC environment. You can confidently use WDSC to do real work from day one without having to learn all the intricacies of the IDE. If you run into an obstacle, you can move back to 5250 at a moment’s notice and pick up right where you left off.

It is complex, powerful, and flexible.

Turnover V100 is my personal ‘IBM i Software Change Management Tool of choice’.

Implementer (Integrity ALM)

MKS (part of the PTS group)

Implementer/400 was originally a Silvon Product, but became an MKS asset several years ago and bought by PTS in 2011.

All three MkS products are part of the Application Lifecycle Management suite but can also function standalone. Implementer runs on the IBM-i and handles software configuration management tasks, for example, version control. MkS Integrity Manager provides crossplatform process, workflow, and issues management tools that include IBM-i support. MkS Source Integrity enterprise provides cross-platform software configuration management tools.

The company has created an ALM platform based around a framework with unified support for requirements, test management, development workflow, reporting and metrics, with configuration and change management integral for all artifacts. This framework supplies a consistent data structure that permits the creation of relationships that, in turn, allow the traceability, metrics and suspect flagging that is essential to collaboration. It further allows the construction of composite items (that is, documents) from the underlying artifacts. The architecture employs Java Web servers to allow platform-neutral, multitier enterprise implementations.

The pricing structure will appeal to certain clients. Rather than separate prices for each of the pieces, there is a single price per user for the entire platform.

MKS has a relatively complete offering, multi platform support and success in enterprise-level selling. MKS will be attractive to clients seeking strong process, change and configuration support for parallel or distributed product development, or those who find MKS’s approach to requirements compelling.

Aldon
Aldon Lifecycle Manager (IBM-i Edition)

Aldon

Aldon Lifecycle Manager (IBM-i edition) automates and enforces IT business processes across the application lifecycle, tracks multiple software releases and dependencies between them, automates application deployment and distribution, and streamlines administrative tasks for developers. The product interfaces with WDSc via a plug-in.

Focused primarily on the tasks of change management, the Aldon tool exploits a common repository, and the company broadly supports both ALM tasks, as well as release and service management. Matching with this is Aldon’s focus on supporting traditional processes, and the company provides a number of compliance and industry-specific solutions.

The Aldon solution best fits teams with complex processes working relatively conventional development methodologies. It appeals to regulated organizations, or to those that need broad multi platform server support. Aldon doesn’t have tools for requirements, but has introduced facilities for test case management. Reporting and analytic tools are good for the core elements, but are limited by the lack of integrations to requirements and testing.

Honorable Mentions

There are many other players in the IBM i software Change Management Arena. Here are some notable mentions:

SEE/CHANGE

Thenon Holdings, Ltd.

See/ChAnGeSee/CHANGe offers tools for controlling problems, software changes, release versions, software configurations, and auditing. It supports projects in ILe RPG and all PC object types.

ARCAD-Skipper

ARCAD-Skipper

ARCAD-Skipper lets developers simultaneously manage native IBM and nonnative components to provide version control for PC components, administration of DB2/uDB components, synchronized multi platform development, and parameter data deployment. ARCAD-Skipper provides integration with WDSc, WSAD, and eclipse IDes via plug-ins.

Change Master

Industrial Strength Software Company

Change MasterChange Master provides check-in, check-out convenience in an SCM solution. It works with PDM, requires no changes to development methodology to use, prevents simultaneous modifications to the same object or source member, and works with S/36, S/38, and IBM-i applications It also interfaces with a variety of third-party IBM-i application development solutions and utilities.

AllFusion 2E Change Management Option

CA Software Manager for Distributed (formerly Harverst Change Manager)

AllFusion 2e Change Management provides an automated environment for controlling and documenting change over the lifecycle of objects on the IBM-i. It enables implementation of change control in the AllFusion 2e model and in traditional application development environments.

IAM Suite

Chrono-Logic

iAM is a suite of application development tools designed to work with LANSA 2005 but that also works with other IBM-i development projects in RPG, Cobol, and Java. The suite includes iAM for Development, a change- management solution that provides automation, tools, security, and information developers need to manage application development, maintenance, and distribution activities.

IBM Rational ClearCase Change Management Solution

IBM Rational Software

IBM Rational ClearCase Change Management Solution provides integrated software configuration management and change control for development projects on multiple platforms, including IBM-i and System z. Features include version control, automated workspace manage- ment, build and release management, workflow tools, audit trails, realtime status and reporting, and security features. enterprise edition adds remote WAN access to a centralized, automatically replicated repository to provide added data security.

Professional Development Environment (PDE/400)

Applied Logic Corporation

PDe/400 works with IBM’s Programming Development Manager (PDM) to provide change-and project-management functions, application-development task automation, and a documentation and cross-referencing subsystem.

TeamStudio Snapper

Teamstudio, Inc.

TeamStudio Snapper helps developers build applications for all platforms that support Notes/Domino, including the IBM-i. Snapper records changes to entire applications or individual design elements automatically and lets developers roll back to any previously saved source-code version. Snapper interfaces with other Teamstudio products that automate other aspects of application development tasks.

Tight as a Drum

Unbeaten Path International, Inc.

Tight as a Drum provides a complete application management infrastructure for IBM-i and other platform applications written in RPG, Cobol, C, and other languages. The product uses a modular structure, can manage data on other platforms via the IBM-i, and includes an extendable software configuration database that can handle impact-analysis work.

CAVEAT EMPTOR

These thoughts are my personal opinions and do not reflect any corporate assessment. It’s for reference only. Take it for what it is… don’t flame or argue about any of my choices, because I’m right and you’re wrong. 🙂 The list of also-ran products came from various different corners of the inter-super-web-net-highway. If it helps someone to understand just some of the different choices for AS400 iSeries Change Management tools then its a good thing.

If you would like a review of your change management software… hunt me down and ping me a message   🙂

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About the Author

IBM i Software Developer, Digital Dad, AS400 Anarchist, RPG Modernizer, Alpha Nerd and Passionate Eater of Cheese and Biscuits. Nick Litten Dot Com is a mixture of blog posts that can be sometimes serious, frequently playful and probably down-right pointless all in the space of a day. Enjoy your stay, feel free to comment and in the words of the most interesting man in the world: Stay thirsty my friend.