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Ness Takes Control of its Views and Streams Using ClearCase

"We have found ClearEnv a time-saving and very easy to manage tool from its first run. All new environments on the project are now created automatically by ClearEnv. This tool clearly brings order and method to the working environment. Users are relieved from the need to configure their own environments, while administrators save long hours formerly devoted to error-correction and policy enforcement."

Joseph Rubinstein, Software integration team leader, Ness TSG

Background

Ness TSG (Technologies and Systems Group) offers an array of field-proven command and control, intelligence, telecommunications, and supporting systems aimed at the defense and homeland security market.

In November 2009, Ness TSG decided to upgrade its ClearCase environments for a group of 60 developers working on a defense project in Windows & Visual Studio.

The Challenges

The main challenge was the complex process of setting up multiple work environments for developers. The Project had a manual procedure in place that developers used to setup their own environments, but the complexity and the large number of options made this solution cumbersome.

In addition, developers had to receive permissions to create new work environments on the server. Despite the written procedures, mistakes were frequent and the developers' attempts at solving them frequently made things worse. Before the upgrade the administration team had to spend as many as 10 hours every month to correct errors on the server caused by programmers trying to setup their own environments.

The project team has thus began to look for a solution to automate the creation of ClearCase environments, for both the upgrade and for ongoing UCM projects management. One tool they considered was the ClearCase utility "Join Project", but it relies too much on work done at the developer's end to be a solution to the project's challenges.

The Solution

IBM Rational recommended that Ness TSG review GoMidjet's products which may solve their problem. Based on IBM's recommendation and the professional reputation of Mr. Gefen, Go Midjet's CEO, it was decided to try this new approach.

ClearEnv automates the entire installation process and provides administrators full control over environment creation and project strategies. Its work method is: http://almtoolbox.com Page 2 Step 1: Administrators define the desired environment through a friendly GUI Step 2: A small client is installed on the developer's work station Step 3: Developers choose the name of the project they're working on from a list Step 4: ClearEnv automatically installs and configures the developers' environments ClearEnv is fully integrted with ClearCase, and received the "Ready For IBM Rational Software" validation.

Using ClearEnv, project developers had a simple way to build work environments without having to learn a new procedure. They could create the environments they needed within minutes, which streamlined the transition to the new version of ClearCase.

Deployment

ClearEnv was installed as part of the ClearCase upgrade. ALMtoolbox' support team provided excellent advice on the best way to configure their different projects, views and project strategies.

Once the central configuration was done, developers could use their new environments within minutes. ClearEnv works as a ClearCase plug-in which can access all the data already stored about users, project, streams, baselines etc. Thus, 6 UCM projects used by 60 programmers each were created within minutes without the need for training, or problems and mistakes to be resolved by administrators. In total, 300 working environments were created.

Today, ClearEnv is being used to implement automatically new UCM projects and changes to existing ones for all developers.

Previously, 10 monthly hours on average were devoted to solving problems caused by mistaken configuration of work environments. ClearEnv has completely eliminated such mistakes.

Additional Benefits

ClearEnv has delivered many advantages to Ness TSG's project beyond the quick implementation of environments, they include: 1. Prevented developers from creating project structures different from those planned by administrators. 2. Prevented costly mistakes in environment configuration. 3. Enforced the organization's project strategy without confusing users. 4. Allowing administrators to focus on advanced features and benefits of ClearCase by reducing manual work. 5. Lowered developers' antagonism to ClearCase, and facilitated adoption of the new development environments. In general, ClearEnv has made it easier for both users and administrators to make better use of ClearCase, and focus on their core tasks.

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IAF Deploys a Windows/ UNIX Interoperable System using ClearEnv

"ClearEnv allows us to enjoy all the advantages of working on UNIX servers without training developers in the system. We were actually surprised that a product that seemed very simple integrated easily with the complex environments we work with."

Gabriel Katzav, IT team leader, IAF

Background

The Israeli Air Force develops and maintains software for a wide variety of aerospace projects, using Rational ClearCase to coordinate the development effort. In September 2009 they initiated a new project that involved several development teams in the organization. Two requirements complicated the project: 1. A heterogeneous system that included both Windows and Unix 2. Each project was developed on a separate virtual server for security reasons

Project Configuration

The central ClearCase server for the project was installed on a UNIX server and the projects' databases are stored on a 3rd party device by NetApp. The clients for developers are installed on Windows machines.

For reasons of security and integration with legacy systems each team works on its own virtual ClearCase view server, and a separate PVOB.

The Challenge

The main challenge was training developers in setting up environments on UNIX, as about half of the programmers were unfamiliar with this OS. Moreover, new developers frequently join the team, requiring repeated training.

This problem would have been exacerbated by the complexity of the environment in the new project. Setting up environments manually involves over 20 steps and working with 4 different systems - UNIX server, NetApp storage server, the virtual ClearCase view server and Windows.

The complexity of the process, coupled with the unfamiliar configuration, could cause a high rate of errors and configuration problems. The time of expensive senior personnel would have to be wasted on resolving issues and training new personnel.

An additional challenge is enforcing the security policy that each team works on an isolated virtual server, as developers received much permission that were only necessary for installation and could potentially compromise security.

Alternatives

Before the new project, environments were installed manually by developers. A written procedure listed the necessary steps and choices and personnel were trained to understand the various choices ClearCase presented to them. This approach was obviously not going to work for the new project because of its complexity.

The administration team then considered developing in-house scripts that will automatically install the right environment for developers, but this approach had several limitations:

1. Scripts would need to be written for both Windows and Unix, a process that requires a lot of work and specialized expertise.

2. The scripts would have to be adjusted for each new project by a ClearCase expert. Such adjustments may also harm the script if the administrator is not fully familiar with it.

3. It is very difficult to support ClearCase regions with scripts. This feature is important for security.

The Solution

The IAF had hired ALMtoolbox' consulting services for the new project, and naturally turned to the team for advice. After reviewing the current situation and the alternatives, it was determined that ClearEnv is capable to solve IAF's problems and offer some additional benefits.

ClearEnv is a ClearCase plug-in that automatically installs environments for developers. It works as follows: Step 1: Administrators define the desired environment through a friendly GUI Step 2: A small client is installed on the developer's work station Step 3: Developers choose the name of the project they're working on from a list Step 4: ClearEnv automatically installs and configures the developers' environments.

IAF developers had ClearEnv installed on their machine and the only choice they need to make is which project they are working on. Based on the configuration set by administrators, ClearEnv retrieves the necessary information from the Unix server, NetApp storage and the virtual server through ClearCase. It then installs the most current configuration for the developer.

Working with ClearEnv allows the IAF to enjoy the benefits of a UNIX server without training developers in it. It also enforces the organization's strict security policies.

The plug-in saves time both for programmers, who get a working environment within minutes with no hassles, and for administrators who are not worried by problems caused erroneous configuration.

Deployment

ClearEnv was installed as part of the new project and was configured to support its interoperable system. Developers received a simple installation kit for their Windows machines, and use it regularly to create environments without additional training on UNIX.

IAF's security rules are automatically applied by ClearEnv so each programmer can only get access to the resources necessary for his or her work, and to nothing else.

ClearEnv is continually used for all projects, and saves an estimated 20 hours per month on solving problems related to installation.

Conclusion

Installing new work environments becomes a crucial challenge in heterogeneous environments. Manual installation becomes unpracticable in complex systems. Developing in-house scripts is one option, but it can be costly and difficult to maintain in the long run.

ClearEnv solves this thorny problem with a simple and easy to use product that can handle the most complex environments.

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ClearEnv has received "Ready for IBM Rational" validation. Read more

A smart tool for saving time of the configuration management team by supplying team leaders and developers a planned and tested method to create their own ClearCase views and streams.

Dvir Ekstein, Senior Configuration Management Expert, FIS Software

We've been using ClearEnv on our new UCM projects, and from starting its first run, we have found it Time-saving and very easy to manage.

We opened 6 new UCM projects, each one is used by 50 developers, and all their environments were fully automated using ClearEnv. This tool clearly brings order and method to the working environment, withholding users from creating unsupervised projects.

Joesph Rubinstein, Software integration team leader

ClearEnv helped us to create new and mass UCM environments. It was done easily, quickly and efficiently.

Zeevik Liak, Configuration Manager and Automation Team Leader, Flash Networks

ClearEnv completely satisfies our ClearCase needs: central IT governance, Windows and UNIX interoperability, which automates our processes and saves us time and money every month.

Gabriel Katsav, IT team leader, IAF