VersionOne enhances agile development

VersionOne is upgrading its platform for agile software development on Tuesday, adding improvements for managing defects and projects.

The spring 2006 edition of the company's V1: Agile Enterprise product provides an integrated planning and management platform for agile software development. The Web-based product is offered in either hosted or locally installed fashions and features a repository for storing and managing software development assets.

Agile processes feature short, iterative software development cycles as opposed to traditional, long processes.

"We help companies with managing their features, defects, issues, tasks, and tests as they flow through an agile lifecycle," said Robert Holler, VersionOne CEO and president.

New features in the spring 2006 edition include:

* executive-level cross-project and program dashboards, for selecting from several projects;

* tracking and scheduling for software defects and defining of acceptance tests for features and defects;

* prioritizing of customer and marketing requests;

* the ability to manage development issues and impediments.

A user of V1, however, lauded its .Net support and customization improvements.

"The views are easily customizable," said Michael Zwicker, agile project architect at Lockheed Martin. "We can drop and drag information from one folder to another" much more easily than previously was possible with the product, Zwicker said.

Lockheed Martin uses the hosted release of V1 but also has used the local version. The hosted product boosts collaboration, Zwicker said. "Everybody can see exactly what all the other teams are working on [and] what challenges they face, and it brings us all together as a cohesive team," he said.

Agile programming offers the flexibility to react to customers, to understand emerging requirements, and to build the right product within budget constraints, Zwicker said. Lockheed Martin employs four-week development iterations with its agile processes, he said.

VersionOne competes with Rally Software in the market for agile software development services, but VersionOne believes it has an advantage in cost of ownership. VersionOne also believes it has an edge in that it has been in the marketplace for four years and has hundreds of customers and thousands of users, Holler said.

A perpetual license for V1: Agile Enterprise is US$500 per user plus 20 percent of that figure for support and maintenance. Users also can subscribe for $30 per month, featuring support.

Rally, meanwhile, charges US$65 per user per month for Rally Agile Pro, its hosted service for multiple teams using agile processes. The hosted service has been available since 2003 and Rally says it has more than 2,500 subscribers.

Agile development has been spreading to larger teams, with 100 to 1,000 people working on dozens of projects, Holler said. Previously, teams of about 20 to 100 developers used the product.

"The biggest change that we've seen, especially in the last year, is a transition from medium-sized teams to large enterprise divisions or larger developer organizations or distributed development organizations," Holler said.

Agile development is being used to accelerate time to market for applications, to boost quality, to provide visibility into the development process, and to align the goals of IT and business, Holler said.

Recently, at the SD West 2006 conference, author Steve McConnell suggested agile software development has not fulfilled its promise. But Holler said he had seen indications otherwise.

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