Serena expands ALM focus with change governance

Dimensions 10 platform features multiple functions

Serena Software is expanding its focus in the application lifecycle management space with a release of a platform tailored to change governance.

The company on Tuesday is launching Dimensions 10, which unifies ALM components for requirements management, change management, build management, and deployment into a single, integrated platform. A management console also is included. Dimensions 10 is geared to large IT departments performing custom application development in markets such as banking, manufacturing, and telecommunications.

"It's change governance for the application lifecycle," said Matt DiMaria, vice president of worldwide marketing at Serena. Change governance extends software change management, he said. "What [Dimension 10] does is extend it out across the lifecycle. You have the ability to do full impact analysis for any change, regardless of where it originates," DiMaria said. Impacts on source code can be traced, he added.

With change governance, companies can visualize the impact of proposed changes, orchestrate processes and polices, and enforce adoption of best practices throughout an enterprise, according to Serena.

Dimensions 10 differs from its predecessor, Dimensions 9, in that the earlier release honed in on software change and configuration management, whereas Version 10 adds in management of requirements, builds, and releases. The product rests on a common database shared by the various modules.

"These are not five separate products. It is a single CD that installs to a single database," DiMaria said. Although the primary intention is to sell the entire suite as a single package, some unbundling of functionality will be permitted, he said.

The platform merges the former Merant Dimensions product and Serena's ChangeMan DS tool for distributed software change management and adds in the additional ALM capabilities, as well as an executive dashboard. Serena acquired Merant in 2004 and anticipates that ChangeMan DS customers will migrate to Dimensions 10, DiMaria said.

Serena previously offered its standalone RTM (Requirements Traceability Management) tool for requirements management; it is being incorporated into Dimensions 10 but still will be available separately.

Before Dimensions 10, users could import and export data between RTM and Dimensions 9; now, that exchange will be seamless and automatic.

With Dimensions 10, Serena seeks to provide a soup-to-nuts platform for ALM rather than having users piece together various products. "What's happened over the last few years is companies have invested in a bunch of point tools that are extremely expensive to maintain," DiMaria said, adding that tools were not designed to work together. "What Dimensions 10 represents is one solution to that problem."

One user of Serena's Dimensions 9 platform said he was pleased with Dimensions 10 but is still investigating whether it makes sense to replace some current tools with the entire Dimensions 10 platform.

"We strongly believe that Serena is moving in the right direction with the functionality and usability of Dimensions 10," said user Gary Soule, IT applications manager in the ALM group at Premera Blue Cross, a health insurance company.

Version 10 offers advancements for developer productivity and usability, such as IDE integration and enabling collaborative workspaces for code sharing among developers, Soule said. Tight integration with Windows Explorer also is beneficial, he said.

ALM is a key initiative in the IT department at Premera, enabling the establishment of software lifecycle processes, Soule said. 

Specific parts of Dimensions 10 include: Dimensions RM, for requirements management; Dimensions CM, for change management; Dimensions Build, for build management; Dimensions Deploy, for deploying software; and the Serena Command Center executive dashboard, providing management, reporting, and visibility into all projects.

Dimensions 10 will be available on Sept. 12. Entry-level pricing for a midsize to large enterprise averages $100,000 for a perpetual license.

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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