MKS Addresses SarBox Transparency with Implementer 5.5
by Alex Woodie
MKS has delivered enhancements to Implementer, its OS/400 software configuration management (SCM) system, that it says will help companies provide greater transparency into business process changes, as required by government mandates such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. Software developers are rarely the ones who must justify to management and shareholders the changes being made to core applications. But before Implementer Version 5.5, non-technical decision makers lacked the appropriate tools to help them understand changes at a business process level, and then deploy them.
Marty Acks, the iSeries product manager for MKS, says developers and business managers have radically different views of applications and the changes that invariably must be made to them. "Say you wanted to extend an item master from 10 to 15 characters, and you have a million objects to be promoted. 'That's change number 32.' That's how developers view the world."
But business managers don't want to deal with source code displayed on a green screen, Acks says. (In fact, it's probably better for all involved if they didn't.) These non-technical users--who, due to new laws such as Sarbanes-Oxley, are being asked to provide business reasons for why changes in applications are being made--should have an intuitive GUI screen to work in, he says. "They need to look at business processes. Not at source code, but the business issue level, such as 'Why did this change go into product?' " Acks says.
That GUI screen is available in an MKS product called MKS Integrity Manager, a customizable and scalable process and workflow management product that works with MKS's OS/400-based SCM software, Implementer, as well as its SCM product for distributed platforms, called MKS Source Integrity Enterprise. With Implementer 5.5, the product features a closer integration with MKS Integrity Manager, enabling users of all stripes to promote and deploy OS/400 software changes from the interface of their choosing--a GUI, a browser, or a green screen.
"Implementer now provides the non-developer user a simpler way to deploy code," Acks says. "It's about simplicity and providing role-appropriate user interfaces. Don't make them go to an emulator, when they're not green-screen types."
MKS delivered several other notable enhancements with Implementer 5.5, including the following:
- An updated plug-in for WebSphere Developer Studio client (WDSc) 5.1, which provides a cleaner integration point for allowing developers to control Implementer's check-in and check-out functions from directly within the WDSc editor.
- Improved support for SQL stored procedures, which provides an easier and "more native" approach to managing integration of regular OS/400 applications with non-OS/400 applications using stored procedures.
- Greater control over multiple development paths, which provides developers with the choice of automatically or manually selecting a specific version of source to be modified.
- New dependency and impact analysis features, which automatically detect and eliminate dependency failures earlier in the QA process, and ensure that all impacted production objects are analyzed and recompiled into the correct testing libraries.
- Improved integration with homegrown applications, through the Implementer Clipboard.
Also announced last week was MKS Integrity Solution 4.6, the collection of tools that includes the Integrity Manager. With this release, MKS delivers support for change management on IBM's zSeries mainframe platform, which, MKS claims, makes Integrity Solution the only SCM product to control source code across iSeries, zSeries, Unix, and Windows platforms. MKS delivered the zSeries change management capability through a partnership with Computer Associates, using CA's AllFusion Endevor Change Manager (CA Endevor) software.
This article has been corrected since it was first published. MKS Integrity Manager was incorrectly called Source Integrity Manager. Also, the company's SCM for distributed systems, MKS Source Integrity Enterprise, was erroneously labeled as a SCM for Java and C++ development on Windows and Unix systems. In fact, it supports many more languages than just Java and C++. Guild Companies regrets the errors. [Corrections made 3/25/04.]