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GatherSpace beefs up cloud-based requirements management

GatherSpace version 2 is now available and continues to offer low-cost software requirements gathering technology that is easily learned and easily implemented. According to GatherSpace founder Darren Levy, "It's painlessly easy to use, and an unbloated solution."

On-demand requirements management provider this week rolled out version 2.0 of its hosted solution, which adds more agile capabilities, a use case model visualization tool and more Ajax functionality. Los Angeles-based GatherSpace, which was founded in 2007, partners with hosting provider getNetworks, in Roswell, Ga, to offer this cloud-based solution.

According to GatherSpace founder Darren Levy, GatherSpace offers customers a low price point and an easy-to-use solution that requires little training. "It's painlessly easy to use, and an unbloated solution," he said.

Levy explained that GatherSpace offers the majority of the functionality and robustness of more expensive requirements management solutions, but not the 10 percent or so of the functionality that may only be needed by outlying customers. And utilizing the cloud eliminates the need to administer and maintain the software itself or the hardware infrastructure, he said.

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According to Michael Azoff, senior research analyst with U.K.-based Butler Group, application lifecycle management (ALM) applications are among the variety of application starting to leverage the cloud. "Some smaller players are going into it right from the go; and some bigger players are playing catch-up. With ALM, it's very early days. There's definitely usefulness in getting test labs up and running quickly," he said, for example, "and it's useful from an infrastructure point of view to host in the cloud."

Philip D. Wilson, founder and chairman of Harvard, Mass.-based RuleSphere International Inc. and an early user of GatherSpace, said that utilizing the cloud for requirements management is a better use of their time. "The important thing is we don't need to manage the back end, which is critical. We need to be heads down in building requirements, so anything to do with managing the application is not a good use of our time."

RuleSphere, which launched in 2001, has been a distributor of IBM/Telelogic products, and "came out of the DOORS [requirements management product] world," he said. "DOORs is the Cadillac of the industry, but we found companies just don't have the dollars necessary to fund those large installations like an aerospace company or a DoD company might. We also knew the world is moving rapidly toward software as a service, and around 2005 we started looking for partner to help us with SaaS … and a requirements management application. GatherSpace was first to market, and we have been working with them on the types of things [features] where they need to be competitive."

Wilson said they are using GatherSpace in their work to build requirements management systems from auditing work programs and compliance regulations. The GatherSpace requirements management application "is adequate for probably 80% of the companies out there," he said.

And while GatherSpace does target the agile development area, Wilson said a strength of the tool is that it can be used by any type of development shop, such as theirs, which is not agile, "and get great benefit out of it."

GatherSpace 2.0 enables anyone on a project team to define business requirements. New features include the integration of agile best practices such as ranking requirements, iterations, and burn-down reporting. Version 2.0 also incorporates Adobe's Flash technology to generate dynamic, graphic-oriented use case scenarios. Also, this version enables the project owner to easily duplicate an entire project as well as the associated data so teams can quickly replicate similar features between projects. GatherSpace users can also import requirements written offline and export their requirements management space into XML or CSV.

Levy also said that like many vendors in the software development space, GatherSpace plans to round out its offering to encompass more of the ALM market, starting with a test case management product targeted for 2010, likely followed by task management.

Wilson said for the future his organization would like GatherSpace to add to its traceability capabilities with requirement to requirement traceability across systems. "But we don't need that right now," he said. "We're finding that the application is doing what it's reported to do; it's basically our workhorse."

GatherSpace 2.0 is available for an annual subscription of $20/user/month; and for $25/user/month for a six-month subscription, or $30/user/month for a three-month subscription.

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