Category Archives: agile

A brief look into HPE’s NG ALM

On March 19 HPE announced the upcoming availability of its “Next Generation ALM” (NG ALM) product as a beta version. In a previous post I shortly described HPE’s intended direction to support bimodal IT with this offering.

Since then I had the chance to look up the beta version. In this post I describe some of my findings. The product has so many areas that I need to focus on some of the highlights. It is not the goal of this blog to provide a complete overview.

Be aware that the product is still in a state of flux, so features might have already changed by the time of this writing. Furthermore, it is safe to assume that the released product will look different (and this will definitely be the case for the product name).

According to HPE NG ALM targets the modern way of developing software products from the very beginning until delivery. This way the entire value stream for product generation is covered.

To support this NG ALM provides 5 entry points to the user: Dashboard, backlog, application modules, pipelines, and defects.

Product areasNotice that there is no “testing” entry; more about that later.

Currently NG ALM manages the following entities:

  • Themes
  • Features
  • Stories
  • Tests
  • Defects

For a given software product those entities are related to each other. NG ALM utilizes a couple of concepts to express these relationships: Hierarchies, relationships, and tagging.  I will describe more about those within the specific product area.

The dashboard provides aggregated information about various aspects of product generation. Individual widgets can be configured based on user needs. Similar to widgets available in HPE’s Agile Manager additional data is provided when hovering over the graphics as illustrated in the screenshot below.

DashboardNG ALM allows to perform detailed analysis of this data via drill down capabilities that are accessible directly from these graphs.

The backlog area contains various aspects to work on: Themes, Features, Stories, and Tests.

BacklogThemes and Features are organized hierarchically. Themes provide the highest level of organization. They represent large grained application areas that can be described by a set of individual features underneath them. Features will have stories attached that implement the feature and tests to validate the stories. Defects may be also located at the feature or story level. NG ALM utilizes freely definable tags to support efficient and effective work environments. They are optionally visible on the right side of the screen and can be turned on and off via simple clicks. Tagging and filtering is nicely grouped together and can be used in combination.

Backlog 2Stories will be tested thus having a relationship to test entities. During the life cycle of a software product tests will be conducted often. A user will have to create the relationship between the user story and test, NG ALM will automatically create relationships between tests and individual runs of those tests. For analysis purposes these relationships can be viewed at in a graphical manner.

RelationsThese graphs provide direct access to details of the displayed elements if desired.

The application module area allows to arrange tests in a way to support long term needs of the organization. Often this might be an architectural view of the product. But there might be other organizational aspects that are of interest. There is no longer a split into separate application modules of test design and test execution as in the current ALM product. Runs can be directly accessed from the tests. Tests can be assigned to multiple application modules.

App ModulesBesides manual tests NG ALM provides a new way into automated testing by utilizing the Gherkin framework. Gherkin is a business readable, Domain Specific Language (DSL) that lets you describe software behavior without detailing how that behavior is implemented.

ngbr7Gherkin became prominent in recent years in context with agile methods that favor a high degree of test automation.

Gherkin tests are handled like development artifacts and stored in a configuration management system. Each time a developer finishes coding an automated build can be triggered along with automated tests. This development approach results in fast-paced and high quality software production.

The defects area delivers pretty much what you would expect from it: Views into the defects of a software product from various use aspects. Modern filtering, tagging and grouping is supported within that module.

DefectsThe pipeline area brings it all together. It is a direct linkage into the build, test and deploy environment. NG ALM provides direct control of those build processes. Out of the box it provides management capabilities of the Jenkins environment.

ngbr9Configuration and customization

With NG ALM HPE provides a modern way to customize the workflow. No more VBA scripting as there is in the current ALM product. Phases and transitions can be added graphically as shown in the following screenshot:

Automatic assignment of tests to application areas can be configured using test assignment rules. Each time a new test matches such a description the test will be automatically assigned to the specified test area.

Summary

NG ALM provides an impressive new approach of HPE into the modern way of developing software. The product can be used with any modern browser which is a big advantage over the existing HPE ALM product. HPE also provides several integrations / synchronizations into its flagship products to allow immediate benefits for early adopters.

New key functionalities are the test automation framework Gherkin and the pipeline approach. They address the move into an agile way of developing software and managing the DevOps challenge.

The product is in a very early phase, therefore customers should expect quite some functionality additions. Specifically, I see the following areas that need to be addressed:

  • Functionality for agile development (e.g.: boards)
  • Functionality for traditional development
  • Integration into other HPE product offerings in the ALM domain
  • Migration for existing users of HPE ALM

Conceptually, there are questions too:

  • What will be the role of traditional requirements in this environment?
  • What are the relationships to business modeling and business process testing?

I will closely monitor how HPE is following up on those challenges and other feedback from the customer community. Stay tuned for more exciting news.

Links to HPE sources about the new beta version:

HPE YouTube: ALM Beta Lifecycle Demonstration
HPE YouTube: Next Generation Application Lifecycle Management Beta Overview
Vivit webinar recording March 22: HPE ALM Beta

Next Generation ALM Beta

On March 19, 2016 HPE has posted two new videos on the YouTube channel of HPE Software about the upcoming beta phase of the product “Next Generation ALM”.

This product is a fully web based ALM solution that targets the enterprise environment. According to HPE it will scale to thousands of users supporting the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe).

It is a completely new developed product that addresses the bimodal challenges in IT departments. Bimodal IT as defined by Gartner “is the practice of managing two separate, coherent modes of IT delivery, one focused on stability and the other on agility. Mode 1 is traditional and sequential, emphasizing safety and accuracy. Mode 2 is exploratory and nonlinear, emphasizing agility and speed.” HPE currently addresses mode 1 with the existing HPE ALM solution. The “Next Gen ALM” targets mode 2.

On March 22 HPE provided a webinar to the Vivit community with the title: HPE ALM Beta

Within that seminar Vandan Nayak Product Manager from HPE announced the start of public beta for March 24, 2016.
The Website for registration is: https://saas.hpe.com/signup/try/alm-beta
The on premise availability for the public beta is scheduled for April 4, 2016.

HPE starts an interesting journey with the “Next Gen ALM” product approach. Watch out for more insights about HPE’s move towards the agile future at agileQC.net in the upcoming weeks.

Links:

HPE YouTube: ALM Beta Lifecycle Demonstration
HPE YouTube: Next Generation Application Lifecycle Management Beta Overview
Vivit Worldwide
Vivit webinar recording March 22: HPE ALM Beta
Gartner on Bimodal IT: Definition, In depth report

Agile Development Practices at HPE

Raffi Margaliot – senior vice president of application delivery management (ADM) at Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) – provided  major insights into the future of app delivery at HPE’s Discover 2015 conference in London. On stage he had not only an external consultant to talk about the challenges for future app development and delivery, but also top managers of HPE’s application delivery management organization.

Attendees got insights how HPE itself is dealing with the transformation to an agile organization. Ruli Weisbach is the manager of the ADM development organization and shared with the audience how his organization adopted agile practices during recent years. This is specifically interesting because they work on the product Agile Manager, which supports agile development organizations.

Later on (at 40:35 min) Udi Weinberg the QA manager of ADM provided an additional perspective of HPE’s agile development approach by filling in the quality assurance view.

The full session is available on YouTube. In case you are at a hurry and just want to look at Ruli’s talk, then start looking at video position 28:00 min.

HPE Video from Discover 2015 in London about app delivery:

HP Agile Manager available on premise

For quite some time HP argued that HP Agile Manager will be as SaaS solution exclusively. For some companies this is a concern, as they consider requirements intellectual property assets, which shouldn’t be stored outside a company’s network. Now it seems that it is available as a solution that can be stored inside a company’s network. From the blogpost about HP Agile Manger 2.0:

… You now have a choice in how you buy and use HP Agile Manager. Now you can use it as a full-SaaS solution with unparalleled security as well as reduced administration and upgrade costs, or you can choose to buy on-premise for full control of the application.

Seems that HP has heard the voice of the customer. However, the information is not widely spread, almost secret. Nothing can be found on the portal pronq, which is the official place to shop for HP Agile Manager.

Pronq – new portal for HP Software

In December 2013 HP launched a new portal to sell its software: Pronq

A selection of products from HP Software is listed there. E.g.: Fortify, Agile Manager, HP Anywhere, Performance Anywhere.

Agile manager can be reached at: http://www.pronq.com/software/agile-manager

At Pronq you can get information about software products from HP, have access to trials and actually purchase software.

At a first glance your wouldn’t even recognize that Pronq is from HP. Seems to be on purpose….

You can find out more about Pronq from Caroline Tsay (HP) in her Pronq launch blog post.

An article in E-Week features Pronq in more detail.

Update February 2015

In January 2015 HP moved the “pronq” brand. HP did sent the following message out to customers:

Dear HP SaaS Customer,

As HP SaaS grows to support more solutions and offerings with every day, the Pronq and HP brands are being brought under the same roof. On February 16, 2015, the Pronq site and MyAccount customer portal are moving to a new location under HP’s global website.

The new URLs for the HP SaaS and MyAccount sites will be as follows: http://saas.hp.com

HP Agile Manager – impressions and outlook

In my first two blogs about HP Agile Manager (HP AM in the following) I provided some facts about the upcoming product.

This blog elaborates on impressions, use scenarios and outlook.

Let me start with the summary first. Wow, this is the type of product that was expected by many HP customers who work the agile way! It took HP quite some time to deliver a product on the agile premise. Now, agile practitioners can use the browser of their choice and are no longer stuck with the Internet Explorer, which is still required to run HP QC/ALM.

For IT departments in large organizations this product will be a big relief and cost saver, as they don’t have to care about installations and needed permissions any longer. No ActiveX components like in QC are required to run the UI. It simply runs anywhere without any download. I did state “will”, because currently the product isn’t delivered at all to IT organizations. The only way to get it is through a SaaS service from HP. While this is an excellent opportunity for companies who are allowed to store data outside of the company network, this is a killer argument for companies who aren’t allowed to do so. From my experience specifically European companies will have some issues here. And this is not just because of intellectual property stored elsewhere. It also has to do with the fact that HP SaaS is typically located in the US. Network latency issue often have an impact on service availability.

From a usability perspective HP AM is certainly great for young generation employees who are used to web interfaces. IT veterans still have their way to go learning new navigation aspects of such a web application.

For a “1.0 release” HP AM delivers a rich set of functionality for agile development. With its hierarchical concepts of themes, features, users stories and tasks large development projects and programs can utilize this product for agile development. And this is not a surprise, as the concepts for HP AM stem from one of HP’s internal development organization with a long experience in agile development. HP utilizes internally a lab prototype product which was presented at several events already. See last paragraph on blog New Opportunities for QM.

Therefore, customers have good reasons to assume, that this product is practice oriented and delivers value to agile development organizations. However, utilizing HP AM to its full potential may be a challenge for organizations just starting with agile. E.g. Estimation, planning and tracking features require corresponding practices at the organization level.

Looking at the competition, HP has to accept that in the second decade of agile development there are already market leaders established. With Rally Software and VersionOne among the most successful. So, how can HP win? Well, HP has a great software portfolio and specifically well established test management solutions. An integrated test management approach is critical for success in agile development. HP AM can hardly win as a standalone solution, but  tight integration with other HP offerings will transform HP AM into a killer app.

It will be interesting to see how fast HP is able to leverage other HP Software solutions.

HP announced already a synchronization tool between customers HP QC/ALM instances and the HP SaaS solution that will allow to synchronize data. However, it seems that data is only partially synchronized. Within the HP AM product Q&A customers already stated, that this is not what they expect. They want to have all data synchronized. Why? Well, there are several reasons. Customers who already have deployed QC/ALM often have build a lot of project management support processes around this tool infrastructure. Reporting, analytics and data warehouse applications are often well established. It is understandable, that they need to have all data in one place. This is specifically true for organizations who do hybrid development: Agile and non-agile.

Next week on Discover 2012 in Frankfurt existing HP Customers will have a chance to experience HP Agile Manager live. And there will be opportunities to exchange ideas and experiences with other practitioners. For example the Vivit TQA roundtable on agile development.

HP AM is a late start, but good start. Stay tuned.

Links:

HP Agile Manager Beta

Vivit Roundtable: Agile Development with HP QC/ALM

The Vivit TQA Special Interest Group on “Testing, Quality, and Application Lifecycle Management” within Vivit, the independent HP Software user community, will conduct a roundtable session about agile Development at HP Discover 2012 in Frankfurt.

The sesson will take place on Wednesday, December 5, 2012, from 14:45 to 15:30.

Don’t miss the chance to exchange ideas and experiences about agile development with other practitioners.

Here are the event details.

HP Agile Manager – Beta Functionality

This blog provides first impressions about the beta functionality of HP Agile Manager (HP AM). It’s not meant to cover all functionality.

User Stories are the de facto standard in agile development. Tools simply have to support them and so does HP AM.  A user story consists of a name, a description and may have some time tracking associated.

Initially a user story may only consist of a name and a sentence statement. At later stages in the development process a user story may get more information and tasks associated which are needed to complete the user story. In HP AM tasks can be attached to user stories initially or whenever  more details are available.


The nice thing is, that detailed task information is aggregated automatically in HP AM. E.g. All estimations of tasks are summed up and presented at the user story level. This does not only apply for estimates but also for time already spent on the user story.

The task board represents a good practice of most agile projects. Visual representation of project status and progress is made transparent to all team members. Work items (tasks), flow from left to right according to their completion state. A developer can simple drag a task from status New to In Progress to indicate, that he is working on it. Once all tasks of a user story are completed, the user story is automatically marked done.

User stories can be added to the product backlog and from there subsequently associated to a specific release and sprint.  These three backlog types can be managed separately in HP AM and will provide different levels of granularity. All these backlog types can be arranged in spreadsheet fashion with free selection and positioning of attributes. The following screenshot is an example of the release backlog.

Defects, that arrive during the course of development and testing can be added to the backlog as well.

That all works fine and represents basic agile support, but for larger projects it is barely sufficient. You need elements that guide development beyond the current development iteration.

For planning in the large HP AM offers the concepts Themes and Features.

A Theme represents a goal for a product release. A release may have one or more themes, but having more than five would be counterproductive. Themes guide a release and help to stay focused when too many requests arrive. Does a new request fit into a release theme? Yes! Add it to the release backlog. No, thanks, add it to the product backlog, consider it for a subsequent release.

Features are widely used in the IT industry, yet they lack a common definition. The Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon defines it as „a prominent or distinctive user visible aspect, quality or characteristic of a software system or systems“.

User stories can be attached to features, so that product management gets visibility into the product development progress. Progress is typically managed by development at the user story and task level, and that might not be the best form to understand the overall status. The next screenshot displays interrelationships between themes, features and user story and how HP AM shows progress based on Stories.

HP AM includes support for managing several agile teams in a project. Teams can be given a sprint capacity and a team might be assigned for a sprint or not, as seen in the following example:

I did not have a look at the ALI Dev integration. That will be left for later.

As a last note I will mention the advanced feature that allows linking of items. User stories can be linked to defects. As long the corresponding defect isn’t fixed the user story cannot be set to Done. This represents good agile practices.

User stories can also be linked to other user stories to denote a dependencies. While there is the goal that user stories need to be factored in a way that they are independent of other stories in reality that cannot always be avoided. In such a case it is good to get some tool support to be aware of the situation:

I will close here mentioning, that this type of relationship management is a strength of classical requirements management. HP QC has good requirements management functionalities and this was mapped to the HP AM.

In my next blog I will set the current offering into context and speculate about the future.