Archive for the ‘Tasktop’ Category

Meet the Interns: Nicholas Folk, Junior Software Engineer

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015

When I first applied to Tasktop, I admittedly had not heard much about the company. What drew me to the company was when I personally visited for my onsite interview. Almost everyone in the Vancouver office works in one wide open room with floor to ceiling windows giving off a bright and amicable atmosphere where everyone is approachable. My biggest concern, however, was whether Tasktop would help me build a sturdy foundation in software development and design. I had heard horror stories of fellow students’ co-op experiences at other companies being unengaging and unfulfilling. So when I was told that I would be writing production level code and learning high quality design practices while doing it, I was resolved to work for Tasktop and could not be happier with that decision.

Since most of my experience writing software had been classroom-based, I was initially intimidated by the sheer size of the code base I would be working with over my term. Luckily, I have had a great team — lead by full-time Tasktopian and Mylyn contributor Sam Davis — that has ensured a smooth transition from the classroom to the real-world software industry. The engineers here are intelligent problem solvers, friendly, and more than helpful when I’ve needed anything. Everyone works hard, yet still makes time for a cold pale ale during the Friday afternoon socials, where I get to chat with the engineers who I don’t interact with daily. It’s also not uncommon for Mario Kart to make an appearance (or my personal favourite, Rock Band!).

Most importantly, the work I have been doing is engaging, aptly challenging, and useful for the users of the product. While I spend a large portion of my time improving Tasktop Dev, one of Tasktop’s original products, my team is also heavily involved in contributing to the Mylyn open source project. Some of the recent developments I have made involve bringing the Gerrit connector up to speed with the latest API changes and even improving on certain features. The connector now supports cherry picking reviews and navigating the EGit Eclipse editor using parent commit IDs. Here’s a video where I demo a few of these features:

I will be returning to classes at UBC this summer, but I plan to continue contributing to Mylyn, using the skills that I am still developing at Tasktop. It has been a blast working with these folks and I have gained a stronger appreciation for working in a fast-paced Agile environment in the Vancouver tech scene.

Why Integration requires a combination of linking and syncing

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

Since its inception, Tasktop has been involved with Open Service for Lifecycle Collaboration (OSLC). We co-authored the original specification with IBM and continue to work on the OSLC core technical committee. OSLC provides a set of open standards for connecting lifecycle tools to enable cross team traceability and collaboration. Based on the W3C linked data specification, OSLC enables links to be established across tools, repositories and projects. Those links include semantic information that allows the consuming tool to access not only the data, but also what that data means.

The objective of OSLC is to provide a set of standards that allow all lifecycle tools to connect information in real-time. Imagine a requirement linked to a test case where, in the requirements tool, the test information was accessed and presented to the user without duplicating the test information in the requirements tool. These external links are not just links to HTML pages, but via the specifications provided by the OSLC standard, they also enable the requirements tool to receive certain information from the testing tool. This enables the requirements management tool to do something with this data, such as provide the data in a rich hover for the user, or programmatically update a status field in the requirements tool.

OSLC, however, has been very slow to take off. Vendors are skeptical about the motivation behind OSLC–viewing it as an IBM driven standard. Without strong vendor support, customers don’t see the value. Without customers driving adoption, vendors will not support its adoption. This creates a textbook chicken and egg problem. No motivation to adopt by the vendors, and because of limited adoption by the vendors, no customers asking for it. Complicating the vendor adoption problem further is the fact that customers are not actively looking for a cool architecture for linking data. They simply need to find ways to solve immediate integration problems. They need a lifecycle integration strategy, and OSLC is not an integration strategy. A lifecycle integration strategy is a combination of decisions around workflow, with reviews and discussions about things like how reports are created and what tools do to support traceability with respect to compliance and governance. OSLC standards provide a set of technical capabilities that support aspects of the strategy, but they are not a complete strategy. This fact is also highlighted in the work of the EU Crystal project –a project focused on solving lifecycle integration problems in the area of systems engineering.

By partnering with our customers, Tasktop is able to see OSLC in the context of the integration needs of diverse organizations. This real-world view clarifies the ways that OSLC and linking fit into a broader strategy.

A top down approach

For any strategy to be successful, you need to begin with the needs of your users. Integration is a huge and complicated subject. Each customer organization has its own set of scenarios. Requirements may include:

  • Flowing data:  When a ticket’s state in tool X becomes ‘defect’ create a defect in tool Z.
  • Reporting: Create a report that includes data from discipline A, B for projects Q and R across tools Z and X.
  • Traceability: Link a requirement in tool X to a series of tests in tool Z.
  • Collaboration: When comments raised about artifact B appear in tool X and Z, allow users of those tools to respond and collaborate in the context of that artifact in the tools they use.

Of course, many integration scenarios are a combination of these requirements. For example, customers may combine flow and collaboration, or reporting and traceability. OSLC can provide support for all of these different types of requirements, but the reality of many tools, coupled with the detailed requirements for each type of need, make OSLC the natural choice for enabling traceability. Traceability is all about linking artifacts – OSLC extends that to enable tools to link a semantically rich connection. And linking is important to any lifecycle integration strategy to support traceability, and help define and structure the flow of information. In fact, since the release of OSLC, Tasktop has been on a journey to better understand the relationships inherent in any lifecycle. This understanding has been the driver behind adding capabilities to Tasktop Sync.

Tasktop and Linking

In April 2014, Tasktop released artifact relationship management (ARM). The objective for ARM was to enable customers to express relationships across tools–even when relationship models in each tool were different. For example, RRC and HP ALM describe the relationship between a requirement and a test in very different ways. A customer who has requirements in RRC and tests in HP ALM requires the relationships to be described in a way that both tools understand and can act on (important not to lose the relationship between tools). Another interesting dimension of the ability to integrate links is how those links are stored. ARM enables users to store relationships differently–depending on whether the tool supports that artifact type or not. For example, the RRC data model does not support the test plan artifact. Doors NG is a requirements tool, and would expect a customer to use Rational Quality Manager (RQM) or another testing tool to manage test artifacts. HP ALM has a model representation for requirements and would expect the requirement to be stored within that tool. ARM enables users to express these different integration rules as internal associations (when the tool has the model representation) and external associations (when the tool does not). This means that sometimes internal links (links to artifacts within the tool) and external links (links to the artifact in another tool) make sense depending on the tool and what the customer is trying to achieve. Maybe it is better to provide an external link to a master artifact in another tool rather than synchronizing that artifact into the tool and using an internal link.

So what about OSLC?

Now that we have added context in relation to the customer needs for OSLC and how ARM supports linking, let’s circle back to how Tasktop supports OSLC. We introduced OSLC support in 2011 with our 2.0 product release. This functionality was driven by our commitment to supporting the standard, and to helping a customer who was experimenting with linking information. At that time, we introduced functionality that allowed customers to describe their mapping to a particular project and tool and make the mapping accessible via an OSLC provider. Tasktop Sync acts as an OSLC provider, allowing customers to create mappings for their OSLC interfaces without the need to write complex REST API’s. Tasktop also enables non-developers to create OSLC interfaces that can be consumed by any OSLC compliant tool (when this functionality was first added, only IBM Rational CLM tools were compliant).

Example of OSLC

Enabling OSLC external links

It is no surprise that Tasktop treats OSLC like any external link, enabling the link to be written in an OSLC form. Unlike many implementations of OSLC (where the link is added by the user of one tool), Tasktop Sync creates the links automatically, based on rules. By combining the external OSLC link with the OSLC provider that Tasktop Sync provides for non-OSLC tools, users  can create an OSLC link with ARM, which can then be programmatically executed by the user. One good example of this is DOORS NG to HP ALM. BAs within DOORS NG create requirements. A subset of the requirements information is synced to HP ALM allowing the testers to create the associated test cases. A traditional HP web link is provided to the HP ALM requirements, allowing the tester to see the requirement in RRC. Once the test cases are created within HP ALM, an OSLC link is provided back to RRC allowing RRC to execute traceability reporting. Also, because there is a model element within HP ALM that represents the requirement, it is possible to take advantage of HP reports and also add metadata to the model element that is synced back to DOORs NG. This metadata can include status or rollup test success that can be included in reports in DOORS NG or HP QC. This combination of OSLC and syncing provides tool admins with the flexibility to use the approach that best supports their needs. For example, it might benefit the BA and testers to include in-context collaboration. By having an artifact in HP ALM, comments can be written and then synchronized to DOORs NG, eliminating the need to use email to discuss a requirement. Synchronization of a requirement between RRC and HP ALM is programmatic– it only happens when key data is entered or the state of the artifact reaches a certain point. This allows process management to be undertaken with only certain requirements entering the tester’s backlog to be worked on. This process automation helps manage the volume of work and supports process models such as KANBAN or Scrum. It also allows organizations to set Work In Progress (WIP) limits, allowing the introduction of Lean approaches to the management of work.

OSLC diagram

It not about linking or synchronization it is about flexibility and value

OSLC, like any standard, has its zealots–people who think replication is evil and OSLC is the Holy Grail of integration. But the reality is that integration is a more complex problem than any one protocol or approach can solve. I hope I have demonstrated that our approach combines OSLC with other integration models allowing for a solution that meets customer needs. Customers have particular needs and look to integration to help them solve process, team-work, reporting and/or compliance governance problems. Tasktop is committed to providing the infrastructure that customers need to solve problems and achieve software delivery success. OSLC is a key protocol, and as its adoption grows and usage patterns emerge, we will continue to extend our support for the protocol. It is clear from our support for OSLC that there is the need for infrastructure that connects the protocol and associated interfaces with the reality of the legacy tools and schemas. OSLC will continue to be a fundamental part of our infrastructure solution and Tasktop is committed to help drive the standard to be more inclusive of the realities of customer tool situations. I write this as both the Chief Product Officer of Tasktop AND a member of the OSLC steering group.

Dave West Tasktop CPO and OSLC steering group member

Meet the Individuals Responsible for Tasktop’s Customer Journey

Friday, April 17th, 2015

As part of our growth at Tasktop, it has been critical that we add in key leaders to sustain and facilitate that growth into the future. I’m thrilled to be talking about the new group of sales leaders we have at Tasktop and feel privileged to be working with this outstanding group. Tasktop now has new sales leaders for Americas West, East, Central as well as a new leader for pre-sales.

Jamie Wetzel has been promoted from an individual contributor role to lead Americas West. I think I am most proud of this as I love when we promote from within. Now in his 5th year with the company, Jamie has proven throughout his years at Tasktop that he’s been management material by embodying our culture and frankly being a leader before ever being given the title. I think Jamie has single-handedly attempted to enable every person who comes to Tasktop, and I am glad that we are able to reward Jamie with this promotion. Truth be told, I think the company is getting the larger reward.

We recently hired John Kapral to lead our Americas East and Central regions. I love Kap’s experience, having started his career in inside sales and working his way up into sales management in a diverse enterprise software career that has spanned such stalwarts (and in some cases Tasktop partners) as Splunk, CA, Symantec, BMC and CSC. In just over 2 quarters at Tasktop, I am already finding that I am relying on Kap’s experience and expertise with sales management and can see marked improvements in Tasktop’s Go to Market process and sales execution.

I am also thrilled that this past summer, we hired Maury Cupitt to lead our pre-sales engineers. Maury has been involved with pre-sales engineering for much of his career, which included working for Netscape, AvantGo, Wily, CA, and Blue Stripe. One of my favorite things about Maury is that he has brought back and instituted the ALM Architecture diagrams to be part of our pre-sales and post-sales processes – something that was so critical in our early days, helping us plot and flow our customers’ ALM tools and the information that needed to be passed between them.

Lance Knight has been given the tremendous responsibility of managing our post-sales activities as VP of Customer Success. His team is responsible for getting our customers deployed, delivering product-related services for customers, providing post-sales support, conducting customer health checks, teaching our customers through our extremely well-reviewed training courses, and driving our knowledge management assets. Like everything Lance touches, he has embraced the role of Customer Success. Lance likes to remind us that his job title is a bit of a misnomer since we all are responsible for Customer Success. Regardless, I feel very fortunate to have Lance leading this team as Tasktop continues to grow.

Yes, we have great innovative products. But working for a company is about the people. And I am proud to be working at Tasktop because we have an outstanding staff of intelligent, hardworking, self-motivated team members who love to win. If you read this and are excited by what you are hearing and are interested in exploring career options at Tasktop, check out our careers pages or contact us.

Premium grade fuel for software lifecycle analytics engines

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

I’ve long taken inspiration from Peter Drucker’s caution that “if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” Technological progress has been punctuated by advances in measurement, ranging from Galileo’s telescope to Intel’s obsession with nanometers. Our industry is starting to go through a profound transformation in measuring how software is built, but only after we work through some big gaps in how we approach capturing, reporting and making decisions on these metrics.

Tasktop - Tasktop Overview v4.3 - DRAFT

Exactly 40 years have passed since Fredrick Brooks cautioned that measuring software in terms of man-months was a bad idea. Pretty much everyone I know who has read that book agrees with the premise. But pretty much everyone I know is still measuring software delivery in terms of man-months, FTEs, and equivalent cost metrics that are as misleading as Brooks predicted. Over the past year I’ve had the benefit of meeting face-to-face with IT leaders in over 100 different large organizations and having them take me through how they’re approaching the problem. The consistent theme that has arisen is that to establish meaningful measurement for software delivery, we need the following (where each layer is supported by the one below it):

  • 1) Presentation layer
    • Report generation
    • Interactive visualization
    • Dashboards & wallboards
    • Predictive analytics
  • 2) Metrics layer
    • Business value of software delivery
    • Efficiency of software delivery
  • 3) Data storage layer
    • Historical cross-tool data store
    • Data warehouse or data mart
  • 4) Integration infrastructure layer
    • Normalized stream of data and schema updates from each tool

Nothing overly surprising there, but what’s interesting is why existing approaches have not supported getting the right kind of reporting and analytics in the hands of organizations doing large scale software delivery.

The Presentation layer (1) is not the problem. This is a mature space filled with great solutions such as the latest offerings from Tableau and Geckoboard, as well as the myriad of hardened enterprise Business Intelligence (BI) tools. What these generic tools lack is any domain understanding of software delivery. This is where the need for innovation on the Metrics layer (2) comes in. Efforts in establishing software delivery metrics have been around as long as software itself, but given the vendor activity around them and the advances being made on lifecycle automation and DevOps, I predict that we are about to go through an important round of innovation on this front. A neat take on new thinking on software lifecycle metrics can be seen in Insight Ventures Periodic Table of Software Development Metrics.

Combining software delivery metrics with business value metrics is an even bigger opportunity, and one where the industry has barely scratched the surface. For example, Tasktop’s most forward thinking customers are already creating their own web applications that correlate business metrics, such as sales and marketing data, with some basic software measures. A lot of innovation is left on this front, and the way that the data is manifested in the Storage layer (3) must support both the business and the software delivery metrics.

The Data Storage layer (3) has a breadth of great commercial and open source options to choose from, thanks to the huge investment that vendors and VCs are making in big data. The one that’s most appropriate depends on the existing data warehouse/mart investment that’s in place, as well as the kind of metrics that the organization is after. For example, efficiency trend metrics can lend themselves best to a time-series based MongoDB, while a relational database can suffice for compliance reports.

For organizations that have already attempted to create end-to-end software lifecycle analytics, the biggest impediment to creating meaningful lifecycle metrics is clear: the Integration infrastructure layer (4). In the past, this was achieved by ETL processes, but that approach has fallen apart completely with the modern API-based tool chain. Each vendor has their massive API set, their own highly customizable schemas and process models, and standards efforts, while important, are years away from sufficiently broad adoption.

Tasktop has long had a reputation for solving some of the hardest and least glamorous problems in the software lifecycle. Our effort is completely focused on expanding what we did with Tasktop Sync to create an entirely new data integration layer with Tasktop Data. Our goal is to support any of the Data Storage, Metrics or Presentation layers provided by our partner ecosystem. There are some truly innovative activities happening on that front, ranging from HP’s Predictive ALM, to IBM’s Jazz Reporting Service, to the Agile-specific views provided by Rally Insights. We are also working with industry thought leaders such as Israel Gat and Murray Cantor to make sure that the Data integration layer that we’re creating supports the metrics and analytics that they’re innovating.

What’s very unique about our focus is that Tasktop Data is the only product that provides the normalized and unified data across your myriad of lifecycle tools (4). We are the only vendor focused entirely on the 4th layer of software lifecycle analytics, and are focusing all of our work entirely on that layer while ensuring that we support the best-of-breed solutions and frameworks in each of the layers above. In doing so, just as we work very closely with the broadest partner ecosystem of Agile/ALM/DevOps lifecycle vendors, we are looking forward to working with the leaders defining this critical and growing space of software lifecycle analytics. If you’re interested in working together on any of these elements by leveraging Tasktop Data, please get in touch!

Tasktop makes it rain in Las Vegas…..No, Really!

Tuesday, March 10th, 2015

It really is something else to see a rainstorm with lightning over the Las Vegas strip, but in retrospect I shouldn’t be surprised after a week of non-stop hits for Tasktop at IBM’s InterConnect 2015 conference. The Tasktop team was a force to be recognized throughout the event, making appearances in the IBM seller program and numerous speaking presentations on the main conference agenda, hosting client meetings and strategizing with our business partners.

Tasktop Booth at InterConnect 2015

The IBM InterConnect 2015 conference was a consolidation of three separate IBM conferences – Rational, Tivoli and Websphere. Conference activities were split across two properties with hundreds of presentations and breakout sessions over eight tracks. There was a massive exhibitor hall in the Mandalay Bay, and the dev@conference, with hands-on lab sessions and developer activities alongside the Executive Track and the Inner Circle sessions (sporting coffee bars with baristas and meeting rooms with big cushy chairs), was located in the MGM Grand.

Tuesday’s keynote panel discussion was hosted by guest speakers from the hit show Shark Tank, and an exclusive performance by the legendary band Aerosmith rocked the house on Wednesday night. This conference definitely aimed to please. With four thousand business partners and sixty three hundred customers attending, there was plenty of learning and networking to be done! I attended Tasktop meetings with both client and IBM executives, and I’m thrilled to say our value proposition of integrated SDLC is the golden key to unlocking successful DevOps implementation for clients in the recently restructured IBM.

Tasktop started our conference schedule by attending the IBM Systems Business Unit sales academy on Friday 2/20 with Emmitt Smith as the keynote speaker. Our sales staff participated in a variety of sessions for IBM sellers specific to the newly organized Systems Business Unit, while Tasktop VP Customer Success, Lance Knight, attended the IBM sessions for Technical Enablement. Next up were the Inner Circle sessions, designed for customers to get inside product info from IBM and key partners like Tasktop. During Inner Circle sessions, clients also share their successes and challenges working with IBM software solutions in what can result in some pretty enthusiastic discussions. What happened inside is top secret, but I can tell you that Tasktop and our IBM product manager Gary Cernosek (seen on the photo above, along with Wesley Coelho, left, and Neelan Choksi, right) presented the integrated SDLC story to a room of client execs and we saw a lot of heads nodding. The message is loud and clear: Integrating the software development process is key to deploying DevOps and Continuous Engineering best practices!

The conference kicked off on Sunday 2/22 with Tasktop’s booth in the exhibitor hall owning the corner between the DevOps-Continuous Engineering theater zone and the, ahem, refreshment station. How do you top four presentations in the DevOps-Continuous Engineering track and Tasktop’s CPO Dave West co-hosting a panel discussion on integrated software delivery tools? With an interactive white boarding session around customer software development integration patterns with VP of Product Development Nicole Bryan of course! The Tasktop C-level team also met with IBM executive leaders and reinforced our OEM partnership throughout the conference. The good news is that Taskop’s integration solutions are perfectly aligned with the value-driven reorganized structure of IBM’s complete portfolio of solutions.

Tasktop staff did not escape the lure of Las Vegas nightlife. We hosted an intimate cocktail party for the Systems Business Unit software sellers on Saturday night at the Rouge Lounge in the MGM. Guests were entertained with stories of the glory days from Tasktop president and blackjack guru Neelan Choksi. If you don’t know the background, click here. There was the posh Inner circle reception at Hakasaan nightclub in MGM, and a poolside reception at Mandalay Bay, which moved indoors due to rain (in the desert). Tasktop staff also attended the Canadian team reception at the Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay and the System Z party at Pulse nightclub. Needless to say, my feet were sore, but it was a great conference!


What do Gene Kim, Agile, DevOps and Continuous Delivery Have in Common? Pretty much Everything.

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

We are just back from the Agile, Continuous Delivery and DevOps Transformation Summit and, from what we can tell it more than lived up to its promotion. For three days, software development and delivery professionals availed themselves of talks, educational sessions, vendor information and networking in the beautiful Bay Area. It’s our understanding that this was the first time Electric Cloud hosted an industry summit, but the attendees seemed very satisfied. At least half of the sessions used case studies to educate attendees on lean principles, the speakers were diverse and the legendary Gene Kim hosted the event, providing the keynote and bringing a large following of Development and Operations professionals with him.

Kim is obviously a huge draw, and contributed substantially to the success of the summit, but the attendees really made the summit from our point-of-view. This was a crowd seriously focused on making DevOps work, solving DevOps problems and basically learning as much as they could about what kinds of tools and methodologies other organizations were employing to realize success with Agile and continuous delivery. They ate, slept and talked lean and achieving interoperability.

This kind of crowd makes it fun for Tasktop. There were lots of serious questions from people meeting difficult challenges. These are exactly the kind of conversations we like to be part of. We’re always happy to talk about planning, tools, collaboration, testing, process… the whole spectrum of the lifecycle.

After talking to lots of people the observation that DevOps has become more of a state-of-mind than a series of actions or achievements was reinforced to us. It’s a way of thinking about the hard work of software delivery. There were lots of conversations about the need for all of the disciplines involved in the software delivery process, people and the tools, to work together more easily and closely. They were singing our song.

And it wasn’t 100% work. An interesting and fun trip to The Computer Museum added some perspective to the event. It’s hard to imagine that technology has come so far in a few decades. It seems like a long time for those of us who have been in the industry for a while, but it’s a speck on the time continuum. It’s also amazing (and a good thing) how much computer design has evolved. Those machines were as ugly as they were groundbreaking.

photo 1   photo 4

We hear that there were hundreds of people on the waiting list once the event reached capacity, so we feel pretty confident that you’ll be seeing this event again next year. In the meantime, we look forward to continuing the conversations with the people we met at the summit.

New Tasktop Data product launched with Tasktop 4.0, unlocks Agile, ALM and DevOps

Monday, October 27th, 2014

From Galileo’s telescope to the scanning electron microscope, scientific progress has been punctuated by the technology that enabled new forms of measurement. Yet in the discipline of software delivery, robust measurement has been elusive. When I set out on a mission to double developer productivity, I ended up spending a good portion of my PhD first coming up with a new developer productivity metric, and then even more time implementing a tool for measuring it (now a core part of Eclipse Mylyn). Over the past few years, while working with the largest software delivery organizations in the world, I’ve noticed almost every one of them going through a similar struggle. All are looking for the best ways to scale or improve their software delivery via enterprise Agile frameworks and tools, DevOps automation technologies, and end-to-end ALM deployments. The problem is that nobody is able to reliably measure the overall success of those efforts because we are missing the technology infrastructure that allows for measurement across software delivery disciplines, methods and tools.

Register for Sync 4.0 and Data Webinar to learn more

With the launch of Tasktop Data we have a single goal: to unlock the data flowing through the software lifecycle. New measurement ideas have recently arrived on the market, ranging from the metrics backing the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) to methods for tracking cycle time through the DevOps pipeline originating from Sam Guckenheimer. There’s also no shortage of tools out there to allow you to visualize such data, ranging from generic Business Intelligence (BI) tools, to innovative new DevOps-specific reporting such as the IBM Jazz Reporting Service. The problem that’s plaguing any large-scale software delivery organization is that there’s simply no way to get at the end-to-end data to drive those metrics and reporting tools. Database-driven approaches such as ETL no longer work due to the fact that databases do not contain the complex business logic of modern Agile/ALM/DevOps tools, and are additionally inaccessible for SaaS solutions. Single tool approaches, such as Scrum or CI metrics, only work for one stage of the software lifecycle and cannot deliver end-to-end analytics such as cycle time. We need a new measurement technology in in order to take the next step in improving how software is built. That new technology is Tasktop Data.

Tasktop has created two key innovations that make Tasktop Data possible. The first is our semantically rich data model of the end-to-end software lifecycle. This is at the core of the Tasktop products and allows us to map and synchronize artifacts across the various tools and levels of granularity that define software delivery. The second is the massive “integration factory” that allows us to test all of the versions of all the leading Agile, ALM and DevOps tools that we support. With Tasktop Data, we are leveraging this common model and all our integrations, allowing organizations to stream the data that defines their software lifecycle to the database & reporting solution of choice. What makes this new technology even more profound is that we are exposing the models within the Tasktop platform, enabling software lifecycle architects to author the models that will drive their reports. The end-result is the real-time flow of clean lifecycle data flowing in to your reporting tool of choice. Running Enterprise Agile DevOps analytics and metrics that were previously impossible is now easy. Check out the demo above for a start-to-finish setup of Tasktop Data that connects Rally and HP ALM to Tableau in minutes. Then imagine this working for your entire tool chain, with your reporting solution of choice.

Tasktop 4.0 Connectors

Tasktop Data is being released as part of Tasktop 4.0, which includes significant updates across our entire product portfolio. The most notable is the fact that we’re releasing 6 new Sync connectors (BMC Remedy, GitHub, IBM Bluemix, Polarion ALM, Serena Dimensions RM and Tricentis Tosca) in addition to bringing Tasktop Dev up-to-speed with the latest developer tools (e.g., Eclipse/Mylyn Luna, Jenkins, Gerrit as well as commercial tools that leverage Dev such as HP Agile Manager).

We’re thrilled that the past 7 years of creating the de facto integration layer for software delivery is now materializing in a whole new way of measuring and improving how software is built. This is just the start of a new journey, as the most interesting aspects of data will arise from the way that our customers and partners leverage it in order to create unique and valuable insights in the software delivery process. For more information on how you can become a part of that journey:

Tasktop Teams up with Appfire – A Leading Atlassian Platinum Expert

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

We’re delighted to be kicking off a new partnership with Appfire to more effectively deliver DevOps integration to the Atlassian JIRA community. Atlassian has always done things a little differently from other vendors in this space. For example, while most companies’ top leadership wear suits, at Atlassian you can identify the most senior people by their Converse sneakers and hoodies. Another way Atlassian operates differently is by offering an almost entirely self-service model with no salespeople. Yes, Atlassian is dipping its toes into the world of sales with new Enterprise Advocates and Technical Account Managers. But there are currently only 7 of these folks in a 1000+ person company with a massive customer base and they are just scratching the surface.

So let’s say you’re a big bank with 60+ instances of JIRA and you need a little more help than just purchasing the software off the website with a credit card. Where do you get enterprise-level consulting to make this work? This is where the Atlassian Platinum Experts come in. The Experts are companies that partner with Atlassian to provide enterprise sales and services for large customers. And Appfire is among the very top providers for the Atlassian community.

Me and George Lannan from Appfire at Atlassian Summit 2014

Because Atlassian and their customers do things a little differently, it makes a lot of sense to partner with an organization that knows both the products and the community inside and out, including the dress code. Our new partnership with Appfire will make it easier for this community to discover and deploy Tasktop integration technology. More importantly, we’ll work together to help customers benefit from the ability to connect JIRA with the rest of the enterprise development tool stack without ripping and replacing existing investments. Exciting times.

For more information check out the news release or contact us.

Time to put Security into the Software Development Lifecycle

Thursday, September 4th, 2014

On September 4, 2014 WhiteHat and Tasktop announced their partnership, while simultaneously introducing the WhiteHat Integration Server. The WhiteHat Integration Server is an OEM of Tasktop Sync technology, which includes a connector to WhiteHat Sentinel, and a selection of connectors. The addition of security to the Tasktop ecosystem is important for so many reasons.

Security must be deeply integrated into software development and delivery

Information security has been an important topic since the advent of computing, but over the last three years, high-profile security breaches have focused everyone’s attention on ensuring their web applications and sites are not easy pickings for crackers. But even though information security is important for many organizations, ensuring it is a separate activity from their normal development process. That disconnect slows down development since major security decisions are often left to the end. Agile and Continuous Delivery have taught us the value of integrating the disciplines, but for many organizations that integration is difficult. The release of the WhiteHat Integration Server and the creation of a Tasktop Sync connector for Sentinel provide automation that connects security vulnerabilities to defects, stories, issues and the rest of the lifecycle artifacts. This will allow organizations that use WhiteHat to embed security into the software development lifecycle earlier – reducing rework, increasingly quality, visibility and ultimately improving time-to-market.

Complete information enables better decisions

Software delivery, like all business processes, is about trade-offs. As software professionals we have to balance the needs of time to market, architecture, features and quality. The iron triangle of software delivery tells you that when considering quality, features or cost – you can have only two. But the most worrying part of these compromises isn’t the fact organizations are making them, it is that they are making without a complete view of all the information. Feature Leads are making decisions about their ever-growing list of features; testers are looking at defect lists; and project managers are trying to work out what to do with a project plan that is no longer valid. Security is yet another trade-off to make, and the use of WhiteHat Sentinel provides you with great information on what, why and how security vulnerabilities and issues will undermine your website or web application. But often this information is separated from the other defects, requirements and issues. Without a complete, single view of the truth, software delivery and business leadership are making decisions without all the facts. With the release of the WhiteHat Integration Server, organizations can synchronize the security artifacts into the right reporting and planning tools, enabling decisions to be made based on a more complete view of the truth.

It is all about flow, not access

Initial attempts to provide developers access to the information from security tools have focused on the IDE, allowing security observations to be surfaced within the developer’s IDE. The release of the WhiteHat Integration Server surfaces these observations, but in a different way. Instead of just enabling security vulnerabilities to be surfaced in the IDE, the integration server synchronizes the information into the tools managing the work for development – at a server level. By synchronizing security vulnerabilities with tools such as JIRA, Microsoft TFS, IBM RTC, Rally, or VersionOne, a developer will get a consistent and integrated view of their work, rather than a separate list of work items from the security tool. This allows them to manage security work in the same manner as other work. This is not only a key objective for development approaches such as Agile development, but also fundamental to building high-performance teams. By synchronizing the security information, you also have the ability to extend information in both artifacts, allowing the work item in a tool like JIRA to add additional development specific information without complicating the security artifact.

It’s more important than ever to connect security teams to their colleagues

The bottom line is that security – like the PMO, Agile teams, quality and service management – must be integrated in real-time to allow rapid, agile, and informed software delivery. The release of the WhiteHat Integration Server enables customers of WhiteHat to take the next step – connecting their security professionals to the rest of the software development and delivery lifecycle, in real-time. And from a Tasktop point of view, this is another BIG STEP in our mission of connecting the world of software delivery.

Things continue to get more exciting and more secure at Tasktop.


Tasktop 3.6 released: IBM DOORS, Jama, integrating “things”

Monday, July 21st, 2014

Nothing catches the technologist’s eye like an elegantly designed gadget, with software and hardware flowing together in design harmony. The trouble is that traditionally, the way we build software and the way we build physical things have had very separate lifecycles. The V-Model of systems engineering provides the predictability needed to assemble little things into bigger things along a broad chain of bills of materials and suppliers. Contrast that with Agile development and Continuous Delivery, where constantly shipping the entire system. For the few companies that have managed to wire together their own internal processes for making hardware and software work together, the results have been spectacular.

For the past couple of years, customers have been asking us to extend the integration that we’re known for to their hardware systems and teams. With today’s announcement of Tasktop 3.6, we’re thrilled to announce our first step in this with Sync support for the most established product requirements management tool, IBM DOORS, and one of the newest and most innovative, Jama.

Tasktop - Jama to JIRA Sync

Over the past two years, Tasktop Sync has transformed from ALM integration technology to an end-to-end DevOps integration bus. We’ve watched in amazement as some of our largest manufacturing customers created DevOps environments for hardware. Service virtualization is replaced by hardware simulation, continuous integration spans to hardware testing, and new software can be deployed to things that we drive. While some Tesla aficionados were annoyed when their cars were no longer as low to the road as they might like, the ability for Tesla to push out such updates has signaled the sign of things to come. DevOps is being extended to physical product delivery, and the lifecycle of hardware and software will become increasingly connected. For this to happen, we need to create a new software-centric backbone for the product lifecycle. One which supports the Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) backbone while supporting the continuous delivery of software and firmware. The first infrastructure software for that backbone is the new release of Tasktop Sync.

It will now be possible for organizations to have a single view of requirements in DOORS and Jama, synchronized in real-time across all the leading Agile development tools that we already support. This is the magic of Tasktop Sync and our integration factory. Once Tasktop’s integration bus is extended to understand a new concept or set of artifacts, such as a hardware requirement, and a connector that has full API-based read and write access to a repository is created, and our integration factory is updated to continually test that integration against all others we support, we enable the seamless flow of information across yet another tool boundary. But the Holy Grail for systems is not just the benefits of collaboration; it’s end-to-end traceability between requirements, defects, and the hardware and software that implements them (to the delight of users). And, the only way to automate this traceability is to integrate the stakeholder tools. That’s exactly what we’re doing, all thanks to the new Artifact Relationship Management support that we release with Tasktop 3.6. Because the cost of not having traceability might be front page news in the form of car recalls and airplane delivery delays.

Tasktop 3.6 also includes a set of incremental improvements to help you get the most out of Sync. Most notable: the Sync bus has been extended to support Test Case synchronization. If you’re a ServiceNow user, you’ll be happy to know we now support Sync to all “task” artifacts, which dramatically extends the number of ServiceNow tables that you can connect to your software delivery and DevOps activities. In addition, we’re releasing time tracking synchronization for Rally, and updates to integration Microsoft VS Online, HP ALM 12, IBM RTC an RRC 5.0, Rally OnPrem, VersionOne 14 and Bugzilla 4.4.4. For the full list of improvements see the New & Noteworthy.

Tasktop - Rally to CA Clarity PPM Time Tracking

As always, we look forward to seeing you deploy this new functionality for use cases that we have not yet imagined. When we first created Sync, we didn’t realize that it would soon be getting deployed for connecting the software supply chain of one of the world’s leading car manufacturers. We can’t wait to see how you deploy this new functionality in your systems engineering and Internet of Things (IoT) efforts, and to hear your thoughts about the other systems engineering and Product Line Management (PLM) tools that you want us to support in upcoming releases. So please stay in touch!