James Governor's Monkchips

Retooling for Agile, DevOps and Continuous Delivery: Serena

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Serena Software has been around a long time: it cut its teeth in mainframe software development with products like ChangeMan, sold into large, traditional enterprise customers with large, traditional development methodologies. While the company does have a culture of innovation, its customers tend to be wary of change – their idea of change management is to not change anything.

I have met Serena in the City before, but yesterday it came to Shoreditch to talk about some of its new development directions.  Julian Fish ran through demos of their latest tools, including a new dashboard, an OEM version of WebFOCUS IBI, which will allow Serena to tie into a wider range of metadata, including external data feeds. Serena is also pushing its new Service Porfolio Manager as a platform. Integration of the two allows users to start asking questions such as “when are production environments idle?” or “when are users actually available for testing?”.

Integration is one of the key themes of the latest Serena tooling. Fish explained that Serena was also now working with TaskTop Technologies, a RedMonk client, because it supports integration and sync with other ALM platforms. IBM is also biting the bullet, and getting serious about DevOps (which doesn’t just mean tight integration between Tivoli and Rational).

The days of one ALM repository to rule them all are seemingly behind us for now. Customers want integration across development toolsets rather than rip and replace. Enterprise IT shops prefer incremental change, in both tools and methods, which is one reason you end up with awful terms such as ScrumFall (ie Waterfall with a bit of Scrum.)

But Serena understands that change is coming, as the status quo breaks down in favour of more effective, agile development practices.

“We plan to build suites across ALM from demand management to release management, supporting different approaches; either structured, operational, and requirements-driven or the more agile, demand centric approach through a DevOps and continuous delivery model. We hit a fork in the road- customers that expect tight approvals, requirements and release management, with permissions, and then other sectors where its more demand, and development led.”

Like HP, Serena sees the writing on the wall for old school development – agile leads to better outcomes, and customers are finally coming around, partly driven by seeing the success of Web companies development cycles.

So Serena plans to launch a DevOps product next year. Fish wouldn’t be drawn on specifics, but we can safely assume we’ll be seeing more configuration automation in that field, with support for environments such Chef or Puppet. Serena’s first moves in space are again based on an OEM agreement, with Noliosoft.

If anything illustrates Serena’s Pauline conversion to the distributed development world its the native support of GIT in its repos. GIT is the distributed version control system (DVCS) changing the business of app dev, supporting a new way of thinking that allows for effective, automated code base forking and merging.

Elder companies now get that they needs to learn and adopt from open development communities:

As par of a continuous deployment chain you need to support Selenium, Gerrit and so on. We’re taking concepts from the communities we’re talking to and building them into our tools.

The best packagers win in tech, so its good to see Serena understand that. I was actually surprised Julian had even hear of the Gerritt code review tool.

I look forward to keeping an eye on the firm because it will have a really good handle on the industry transition from Water Fail to something better, as its customer base starts to get it. Enterprise application development has failed to deliver successful business outcomes because of broken process flows, and too much specialisation. Learning from the web is how to fix this state of affairs.


disclosure: IBM is a client

One comment

  1. […] analyst James Governor sums up the position this technology sits at succinctly and accurately: “The days of one ALM […]

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