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Change Management Can Yield More Information

MKS's new release of Integrity Suite combines requirements and workflow management with automated change-control capabilities.

MKS Inc. on Tuesday added requirements management to its software change-management system, Integrity Suite 2005, along with new dashboards to show the status of development projects.

As a result, MKS is pushing what was once a departmental system for version control into an enterprise change-management system, with some project-management aspects thrown in for the CIO, industry analysts say. MKS Integrity Suite 2005 "is not going to replace Microsoft Project as a worksheet for single project management," Gartner analyst Jim Duggan says. "But it is going to serve as a roll-up point for data on many projects."

To move in that direction, MKS added requirements management capabilities--the capture of business requirements for a new application and relating them to code that's being produced--to what had been an enterprise change-control system. The latter is a specialized application that shows who made what changes in software code when and allows a company to restore an earlier version of a system.

By adding requirements management, MKS moved onto turf already occupied by IBM's Rational unit and Swedish company Telelogic AB as part of their larger development toolsets.

Integrity Suite already combines capabilities found in two previously separate MKS products: workflow from Integrity Manager and software change management from Implementer for the IBM iSeries server. MKS acquired change-management software for the iSeries--the former IBM AS/400 server--from Silvon Software Inc. in 1997.

By bringing requirements management into Integrity Suite, it's relating requirements to successive modifications of the source code in a project. If requirements change while work is in progress, Integrity Suite "ties the new requirements to where they may impact existing code," IDC analyst Melissa Webster says.

In addition, MKS has added dashboards to present information in charts or other visual forms. The data is gathered automatically by its change management and requirements-management system. "Project-management data is only as good as the data entered by the project manager" in most project tracking systems, Gartner's Duggan says. "When you can get your data direct from your run-time system, that's a big deal," he says of the MKS product.

The dashboards can show such data as the status of assigned tasks, defect rates, and lines of code produced by members of a distributed development team. Information may be added to the dashboards in near real time.

Integrity Suite can add digital signatures that identify code modifiers and an audit trail that captures the timing and exact nature of code changes. Such features establish an audit trail that's useful for complying with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, says Michael Harris, chief operating officer of MKS.

MKS Integrity Suite 2005 is priced at $37,000 for 10 users. MKS's products compete with those from Borland, as well as IBM and Telelogic. It also competes with Serena Software, which acquired Merant last year to form a combined change-management software company.

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