Polarion Software today rolled out Polarion ALM for Subversion 3.0, an integrated application lifecycle management (ALM) platform built on the open source Subversion (SVN) version control system. The company also announced the availability of free and open source tools for Subversion.
New features in the 3.0 release include a Web user interface (UI) built on Web 2.0 technology, including Ajax; a role-based UI; support for agile processes; team collaboration with the Wiki-based "Wikiversive"; a fully open API; and a new implementation of the platform with a plugin-based architecture.
The intent of ALM is to coordinate all the major phases of the application lifecycle -- from requirements through modeling, coding and testing -- through enforcement of processes and process automation, traceability, and reporting and analytics, according to Forrester Research. ALM is about a decade-old concept, and according to Forrester senior analyst Carey Schwaber, the early suite offerings, which she dubs ALM 1.0, often had "brittle tool-to-tool integration."
Stefano Rizzo, product manager at Polarion agreed that the original ALM has been difficult for users.
"Customers are experiencing big pain with ALM," he said. "The previous definition of ALM was 'good tools managing microprocesses.' ALM was born with idea of creating an integration of microprocesses, but it was lacking the macroprocess vision. Integrations were proprietary; ALM was based on one vendor's solution, and the processes were not flexible for customers. "The market realizes ALM needs to give value of the big picture for high-level stakeholders [as well]. Now with initiatives like Open ALM from Borland or ALM 2.0 from Serena or IBM, it's all going in the same direction -- to have good support for the macro picture."
Polarion, with its roots in Germany, was founded in 2003 and entered the U.S. market about 13 months ago, with offices in Cary, N.C. It faces formidable competition in this space from major vendors such as Borland, IBM, Microsoft, Serena and Compuware. Polarion cited its integrated platform as well as the economics of open source as advantages.
"We want to bring painless application lifecycle management and solve issues we don't see being addressed," said Frank Schröder, Polarion CEO. A major obstacle, he said, is the islands of automation that exist when development groups use different tools for version control, requirements, bug tracking -- all with different databases.
"There are huge interface problems. With Polarion ALM, you have one interface, one Web-based application. Everything is in one repository, and it's all integrated from an architectural point of view," he said. And Subversion is "good state-of-the-art proven technology, [and we] provide customers with pretty good cost of ownership."
Rizzo added, "We can demonstrate solid ROI. Customers understand the value of having an open source solution. And then they discover the benefits of having a single solution. You don't have to manage too many tools, and you have features for requirements engineers, projects planners, dashboards, etc."
Along with the 3.0 platform, Polarion provides several free tools:
FastTrack for Subversion, a tracker plugin for the Eclipse IDE
SVN Express by Polarion, which bundles Subversion, Polarion FastTrack, Polarion's Subversive client for Eclipse, Polarion's Web client for Subversion, and the company's complete suite of Subversion data migration tools
- Importer for SVN, Java-based tools for transitioning to Subversion from other version control systems, including CVS, Microsoft Visual SourceSafe and ClearCase
New open source tools from Polarion include Subversive Eclipse Client for Subversion, a client plugin for SVN integration that was originally developed at the Polarion Community and is now an Eclipse Technology project; and the SubTrain Open Source Subversion Training Curriculum.
Forrester's Schwaber said that "building on Subversion is a very good idea, and Polarion isn't the only vendor to think so. CollabNet has done so already, and VA Software did so with its SourceForge product as well. [CollabNet is the sponsor of the Subversion project.] At this point, Subversion is both popular and mature enough that even well-established vendors with their own SCM solutions are investing heavily in integrations to Subversion."
However, Schwaber added, "One area where Polarion does need to improve is in its engagement with the Subversion open source project. Software vendors who built on top of open source projects have to respect the open source philosophy of giving as well as taking. Otherwise, they run the risk of alienating the community, which jeopardizes their ability to get support when necessary."
For organizations evaluating ALM products, there are trade-offs to consider. "Most vendors that build an ALM solution from the ground up on top of a single-repository find that they lack depth of support in areas like test management or requirements management," Schwaber said. "In contrast, those that integrate existing tools have great depth but limited integration."
Schwaber expects next generation ALM platforms, which she has dubbed "ALM 2.0" to address this.
"ALM 2.0 solutions, which are currently in development by major vendors in this space, aim to resolve this paradox between suite and best of breed by driving common features like security, workflow, and collaboration into an ALM platform and then making them available to role-based tools," she said.