MKS Refreshes Change Management Suite, Adds 'Dashboard' View
by Alex Woodie
MKS today launched a new version of its cross-platform suite of change management software, called MKS Integrity Suite 2005. The suite includes updates to the OS/400 and open systems change management components, Implementer and Source Integrity, as well as major enhancements to the Windows-based Integrity Manager component, which gains the new Requirements 2005 plug-in and a new Management Dashboard view to help users comply with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.
The Sarbanes-Oxley Act, or SOX, has been a major catalyst for sales of Implementer and Source Integrity, says Ellyn Winters-Robinson, vice president of marketing for MKS. However, while sales have been good, many companies are still choosing to use manual processes to achieve compliance in their first SOX audits, she says. "What we believe is going to happen is, CIOs, very quickly, will say, 'Enough of this.' The manual efforts of continued compliance are causing IT organizations to defer or delay other projects," she says.
The cost of not automating compliance initiatives will be borne in the future, says Marty Acks, MKS iSeries product manager. "We anticipate many of these folks who did manual processes year one, will incur substantial costs years two, three, four, and five if they don't automate some of the things they did, brute force, by hand," he says.
MKS is targeting executives and SOX decision-makers with its new Management Dashboard, which ships as an integral component of the Integrity Manager application. (Integrity Manager acts as the collaborative workflow piece linking developers and managers, as well as MKS's various change management pieces.) The new Management Dashboard provides executives with graphical charts, reports, and metrics that track various things like defect trend rates, work status, and work distribution across the IT organization, including all major platforms and outside developers.
Metrics are becoming more important to chief information officers and project leaders alike, Winters-Robinson says. "CIOs being asked, 'Where is my IT investment going?' And CIOs are asking the CTO, 'Where are you spending money?' " she says. "What we've done by adding a dashboard is essential to bubble it up to management group, to provide them with better metrics and reports."
Once business managers have this information, they can provide it to SOX auditors. "What companies are being asked to do under SOX is, you have to get better IT controls in place. First have it, then document it to auditors; prove that it's being used," she says. "That's where people are having a difficult time with SOX compliance. 'Prove to me, an auditor, that you follow the process you've prescribed.' "
In his new role, Acks uses the Management Dashboard to organize various requests and activities that he's responsible for inside the MKS organization. "I found it to be an extremely good planning tool," Acks says. "I previously spent a lot of time writing queries. Now I have fewer queries, and I have a few strategic graphics."
The Management Dashboard uses graphics to help executives grasp trends in application development
The other new component that can help with a SOX audit is the MKS Requirements 2005 package, which was officially unveiled with the MKS Integrity Suite 2005 announcement. As an optional plug-in for Integrity Manager, the Requirements component provides a regimented process for managing and documenting the requirements stage of application development, by linking developers and their source code changes to managers and their business documentation.
MKS has also made several enhancements with Implementer 2005, the OS/400 change management component of the Integrity Suite 2005 release. Since the last release of the product, Implementer Version 5.5, in March 2004, MKS has worked to add better integration with Integrity Manager and IBM's WebSphere Developer Studio client, among other changes.
Developers who use Implementer can now view all of the work assigned to them directly from within WDSc, which eliminates the need to navigate elsewhere to perform their work, MKS says. MKS has also re-architected the part that connects Implementer and Integrity Manager, and as a result the workload can now be run from an iSeries or an Intel server. Previously, this piece had to run on an iSeries.
There is also a new Change Lock command within Implementer 2005, which allows users to write their own scripts to manage the assignment of issues to source and objects, and a new Create Issue command allows for the creation of issues directly within Implementer or from a command line, MKS says. A new e-mail command and support for independent auxiliary storage pools (iASPs) on iSeries servers have also been added to this release, along with elimination of "spurious" escape and diagnostic measures, the company says.
This release also includes a revised license checker that issues warning messages before temporary license keys expire. Release management has also been improved with Implementer 2005 by supporting the iSeries DVD writer, and by enabling Integrity Manager to track software releases. Improved integration with the LANSA and Computer Associates AllFusion 2E development environments, as well as support for Lawson Software and Domino applications on the iSeries, round out this release.
A 10-user license for MKS Integrity Suite, including MKS Source Integrity Enterprise, MKS Integrity Manager, Integrity Server, and MKS Requirements, is $37,000.