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CollabNet, Danube insiders discuss post-acquisition ALM product roadmap

This week CollabNet made a move to strengthen its Agile application lifecycle management management (ALM) line by acquiring ScrumWorks-creator Danube. CollabNet’s ALM products TeamForge and Subversion and Danube’s popular Agile PM product, ScrumWorks, will continue to be offered separately. However, plans are in place to integrate these products allowing for a solution in Q2 that will offer both distributed ALM and agile project management to customers.

I just met with Bill Portelli, CollabNet CEO, and Victor Szalvay, now CTO of CollabNet’s Scrum Business Unit. Before I share some of our conversation, here’s a little more about the products involved. TeamForge is an ALM platform designed for distributed teams. It includes a series of modules that can be used throughout the software development lifecycle and is methodology-agnostic. It is built around the popular Subversion source code management tool, an open source tool founded by CollabNet. Danube’s ScrumWorks is a popular Scrum project and program management tool, with over 150,000 users.

I asked Portelli and Szalvay how their products compared with offerings from ThoughtWorks and Rally.  Though those tools can integrate using APIs to a variety of other ALM products, they said, CollabNet will offer a package of distributed ALM tools, allowing for more flexibility for those organizations that are adopting agile with caution. Collabnet’s ALM products are methodology-agnostic and allow for a “slow step-wise approach and on-ramp towards agility,” said Portelli. The tools are Web-based and allow for technology independence as well, working equally well whether you’re code base is Java, .Net or something entirely different. The tools also are scalable, working well for large enterprise projects. Collabnet’s product line will help cover the gap of issues that have typically been difficult barriers for agile development: distance collaboration and large-scale development.

Distributed agile is a particular interest of mine since I manage a professional development network myself, Beyond Certification, for those who want to learn more about using agile practices in distributed settings.

So, I asked Portelli and Szalvay if agile purists might feel that agile methodologies were being compromised by bringing in tools that manage processes that might be considered more traditional. “One of the exciting things is that we have not had to compromise the purity,” Szalvay said. Customers will continue to have the option of using only ScrumWorks as a standalone product. However, for those that are transitioning to agile or using hybrid methodologies, it looks like Collabnet will have a fully integrated ALM solution.

Portelli and Szalvay believe that their customers — both the execs and the developers — are pleased with the acquisition. They’ve been asking for a more “flexible and mixed methodology” environment. “Our goal is to win the hearts and minds of developers. Evangelists will see the reality of allowing to onramp people into agile.  [Agile] Gurus are positive and congratulatory.”

How are the people at Danube feeling about the acquisition? I found this post by Lyssa Adkins from Danube:Is your Scrum team a dinghy or an oceanliner? She uses the metaphor of sailing the ocean, asking teams whether they’d rather be a dinghy, hanging on for life in turbulant waters or an ocean liner, in control.

Oftentimes, reflecting on themselves through metaphor and not thinking (feeling instead) turns up the resonance for the team. From here, they can see things about themselves they didn’t see before. Better yet, with the metaphor in mind and the focus on the future the metaphor often brings, they can see new possibilities for being better than they are today.

It appears that CollabNet and Danube are joining to become an ocean liner and preparing to sail the Seven Seas.

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