Team Concert Beta 3 Out

The IBM’s Jazz project has just released the beta number 3 of its Rational Team Concert (also named Rational Team Concert 1.0 RC2), the first product based on the Jazz Team Server. I had the chance to attend recently in Geneva to an interesting presentation given by John Kellerman, the product manager of Jazz. A long time IBM employee, John worked already on the AD/Cycle project and has been a part of Eclipse since its origins in 1998. He gave an insightful speech on how a company can “develop commercial software in an open transparent way”. This means that the development schedule and progress is completely visible and that open interfaces will allow other companies to integrate their products on the Jazz platform, even if some, like source management systems, are competitors of Rational products. For John, the gain achieved by having an open relationship with customers far outweighs the loss of having some code and development schedule visible by the competition. He said also that having Rational executives agree on this was not an easy task.

The final release of Team Concert should be somewhere in June. Doing it on time for the Rational Software Development Conference would have been a good thing, but apparently this result will be difficult to achieve, even if the product has been beta tested since June 2007. Between 6 to 12 partners are working with IBM to have their products integrated with Team Concert, even if the current API are not yet finalized. A next goal will be to provide integration with Microsoft’s Visual Studio. Even if the product is open, integration could not be an easy task when some access rights have two be synchronized between the Jazz server and the external product for instance.

The origin of the project was the need to have a common infrastructure for the many products (ClearCase, ClearQuest, and etc..) grouped under the Rational banner. If Eclipse could be considered a desktop integration platform, Jazz has the ambition to provide development process integration at the server level. Distributed teams will be able to set a clear software process with related projects roles and share easily artifacts like piece of code, defects or build results. It will also provide managers (IT or business) some good dashboards to follow the project progression.

From what I have seen from a demo that shows Rational Team Concert features accessed through an Eclipse client, the product targets more medium to large teams (even if currently there is a limitation of 250 users by server) that operate in a geographically distributed environments. Some “template” processes will be available with the tool for approaches like OpenUP or Scrum. Even if the product tries to get an “agile” label, the way it enforces structure and project reporting seems to make it more suited for projects that need (or want) strong auditing features. John told us that the tool was liked by both IBM developers and auditors. I don’t think that such a convergence of likeness could be achieved in many places…

It was funny to see that the “we are agile” marketing slide comes just after a slide mentioning that one of the goal of the tool is to reduce status meetings. I thought daily meetings were one of the main concepts behind Scrum ;o) It is however also true that geographically distributed teams face different challenges.

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2 thoughts on “Team Concert Beta 3 Out

  1. Hi, thanks for the interesting write-up!

    With regards to:
    “we are agile” vs. reduce status meetings, I don’t think these are in conflict. I think there are just different *types* of status meetings – the high-bandwidth sort that agile teams prefer and the low-bandwidth variety that suck time and energy. Jazz and Team Concert help eliminate the latter type. Some more detail…

    High-bandwidth status meetings are short and focused on clarifying priorities, communicating and reiterating important information, and reaching consensus on open issues.

    Low-bandwidth status meetings tend to be long, ponderous, and involve going around the room to find out “where is everyone at?” Developers take a guess at where they’re at w/r/t their work (95% done!) but the guess is often based on a vague perception rather than empirical data. As a result, the quality of the information is very low, not to mention many people who might otherwise be coding or testing are simply sitting there waiting for “their turn”.

    Jazz and Team Concert help eliminate the low-bandwidth status meetings by automatically collecting a lot of empirical data about the state of development as a side-effect of performing routine activities like delivering code and working with bug reports. Jazz does a lot of behind the scenes aggregation and analysis to distill many gigabytes of development data into meaningful reports that give you the high-level view of the state of development. Conversely, if you want more detail, you can drill-down from these high-level reports into the lower-level data (e.g. change-sets, bug reports) that are represented by the reports.

    But to be clear, we don’t claim that Jazz and Team Concert make all status meeting unnecessary… just the ones that destroy our souls :-)

    Hope this was useful. If you’d like to see it in action, you can view our own self-hosting Jazz repository at Jazz.net: https://jazz.net/jazz/web/projects/Jazz%20Project (Jazz.net registration required).

    Bill Higgins
    Jazz.net and Jazz Platform teams

  2. The daily meeting in Scrum is specifically not a status meeting. It is a way for the team members to coordinate their work and bring attention to any impediments to the progress of the current iteration. Problem solving and issue resolution is taken offline so this quick ‘stand-up meeting’ should take no more than 15 minutes.

    Here is a good reference: http://www.mountaingoatsoftware.com/daily_scrum

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