Remain Software Improves ALM Workflow, Readies Multi-Platform Capabilities
April 17, 2013 Dan Burger
Change management in IBM midrange shops is much more precise than its equivalent on other platforms. It has also been very platform specific. That was all well and good when the platform was dominant in its world. But it’s rarely a standalone platform these days. Development in multiple languages has made single-platform change management too limited. And that’s what led Remain Software to introduce a workflow management product it calls Gravity.
Gravity specializes in process automation, improved collaboration, and smooth communication among development teams. That’s phase one, which is available now. The actual multi-platform capabilities will be introduced later this year.
The new software documents application development tasks that take place from assignment to production with designated checkpoints along the way to assure accuracy and eliminate bottlenecks and dead ends. But most importantly, Gravity will address multi-platform development in the next phase of product development. That’s when the interoperability piece arrives.
Prior to Gravity, Remain’s offering for the IBM midrange was a change management product called TD/OMS, which was specific to what we now call the IBM i environment (including the 4GLs) and was originally written in RPG, but later converted to Java/Eclipse.
In October 2012, IT Jungle wrote about TD/OMS and its move toward becoming more cross-platform capable by adding a client deployment module, which is important when changes are made to components that then need to be deployed to either a test or production environment on a different platform.
Gravity helps smooth the ALM workflow in more complex environments, according to Joan McKittrick, one of the owners of Solutions First, the North American distributor for Remain Software.
In a traditional change management environment, a request would typically go to a change control board and, if approved, it was routed a few more steps before it got to a programmer, McKittrick says. Gravity streamlines that process with the appropriate routings, statuses, and checks. It also has the capability to attach documents to a request and create events based on steps or statuses within the environment, she says.
Gravity will allow the TD/OMS change management product to fit into a multi-platform workflow that is not restricted by languages, operating systems, hardware (including mobile devices), or databases. (Again, mainframe is the exception.)
To gain its interoperability edge, Gravity is being developed with a combination of service oriented architecture based on OSGI, Java, Apache ZooKeeper, and OSS Discovery. If you are unfamiliar with ZooKeeper, it is a centralized service for maintaining configuration information, naming, providing distributed synchronization, and providing group services, which are used by distributed applications. OSS Discovery helps manage open source usage while maintaining compliance with a company’s internal policies, regulations, and software license terms.
Workflow is Gravity’s strength. As application development becomes less proprietary and more composite, monitoring from assignment to production becomes a bigger endeavor and a more critical task. Being able to do quality control multiple environments will be a valuable asset, especially when IBM i development is part of the mixture. Remain would like to see IBM i development managed with its TD/OMS change management product, but that is not a mandatory requirement.
Another aspect of Gravity that distinguishes it from other workflow management solutions is the potential to set up workflow according to users’ specific needs and according to their individual activities (like sending email or managing a calendar, or more complex steps like starting a build on the build-server or enforcing users to enter sign-off information). Traditional change management in the IBM i environment is done with a process that moves from stage to stage, but Gravity allows for a role-based and activity-based process, which is a more modern method that fits in better with agile development.
Remain designed and tested Gravity to work with DB2 for i and uses it in its own shop, which has run on IBM midrange iron for more than 20 years. But it also designed the product to work with any SQL database to ensure customers have options.
Initially the target markets are the IBM i users and the X86 users that are unhappy with the products they are using.
CORRECTION: The original article noted that Gravity would run on the IBM i using a MySQL database. It actually uses the DB2 for i database when running on the i. IT Jungle regrets the error.