FEI lays a foundation for application lifecycle management and savings

Migrating a multi-site configuration management landscape to IBM Rational Team Concert

Published on 17-Jul-2013

"As our development teams gain more experience with Rational Team Concert, we expect to see a boost to productivity and a reduction in overall costs." - Kean Stump, North America SCM and Installs Manager, FEI

Customer:
FEI Company

Industry:
Electronics

Deployment country:
Netherlands

Solution:
Agile Software Development, Application Design-Build-Manage, Development & Technology Adoption

IBM Business Partner:
Alten PTS

Overview

FEI Company is a world leader in the production and distribution of electron microscopes for the research, natural resources, electronics and life sciences sectors. The company produces cutting-edge tools that are revolutionizing nanoscale exploration from the classroom to the laboratory to the clean-room. It maintains research and development centers in North America, Europe, Australia and Asia, and operates in more than 50 countries worldwide.

Business need:
FEI wanted to standardize on a single solution for application lifecycle management that would unite software configuration management, project planning and issue tracking. It also wanted to help teams at multiple sites collaborate more easily and enable users to log into the solution remotely.

Solution:
With help from IBM and Alten PTS, FEI migrated configuration data from IBM® Rational® ClearCase® into IBM Rational Team Concert™. Developers across three countries can now manage millions of lines of code with a single solution.

Benefits:
Provides better support for multi-site collaboration between FEI’s teams and with third parties. Enhances management of code streams and repositories. Provides integrated planning and incident tracking.

Case Study

To read a Dutch version of this PDF, please click here

FEI Company is a world leader in the production and distribution of electron microscopes for the research, natural resources, electronics and life sciences sectors. The company produces cutting-edge tools that are revolutionizing nanoscale exploration from the classroom to the laboratory to the clean-room. It maintains research and development centers in North America, Europe, Australia and Asia, and operates in more than 50 countries worldwide.

Building an electron microscope requires more than just sophisticated hardware, and FEI needs to focus just as much on software development as it does on precision engineering. Clients use their microscopes for many different purposes, and FEI often needs to provide customized versions of its software to help them get the maximum value from their investment.

Three software development teams, located in the USA, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands, are responsible for delivering both the standard software and the necessary customizations. Each team needs to manage several million lines of code, together with all the specific configuration details for each product and each client.

Looking for a unified solution
Until recently, the development teams had been using IBM Rational ClearCase for configuration management and a variety of tools for issue tracking and planning, including Serena TeamTrack and Redmine. There was no standard approach for managing the overall software lifecycle. Moreover, although a large proportion of the total code-base was used by all three teams, collaboration across multiple sites was hampered by a lack of performance and flexibility.

Ton van Haren, Software Configuration Manager at FEI, comments: “We wanted a more modern configuration management solution that would support our multi-national development effort more effectively. We were also keen to integrate other aspects of the application lifecycle, such as project planning and tracking and issue management into a single tool. As we were coming to the end of the support period for our version of ClearCase, it seemed like a good opportunity to rethink our strategy.”

Selecting IBM Rational Team Concert
FEI performed a comprehensive review of solutions available on the market against a list of 39 basic criteria, and found that most vendors’ offerings fell short in one or more area. Combining multi-site support with application lifecycle support appeared to be a particular problem for the majority of solutions. Ultimately, FEI shortlisted two products, and selected IBM Rational Team Concert.

Eric Kreuwels, Software Manager – Netherlands at FEI, explains. “We liked Rational Team Concert because it was clearly more than just a ClearCase replacement: it offered full lifecycle management capabilities. There was also a clearly defined migration path from ClearCase, and a credible roadmap for future development.”

Working with IBM Czech Republic, the company performed a successful proof of concept to migrate one of the Czech team’s projects from ClearCase to Rational Team Concert, and demonstrate the capabilities of the new software.

Michal Talanda, Software Manager – Czech Republic at FEI, says: “Many companies are facing the same need to update their configuration management environment, but hesitating because it seems too complex or too risky. We had the same concerns, but the proof of concept gave us a lot of confidence that it could be done without undue disruption to our development processes or loss of data.”

Preparing for the migration
The migration project started with comprehensive training for the project team to help them understand the differences between ClearCase and Team Concert.

Kean Stump, North America SCM and Installs Manager at FEI, notes: “One lesson learned is that we underestimated the paradigm shift between the two solutions. Team Concert takes a different approach to checking code in and out of the repository, and it’s important to make sure all the developers get used to the new process. Ultimately, we have been able to migrate all our active projects without much trouble. Properly scoping your RTC pilot project is essential.”

Effective partnership
The Czech team moved to the new solution first, followed by the American and Dutch teams. Since there was a need to complete the migration before the existing ClearCase licenses expired, FEI engaged Alten PTS, an IBM Business Partner, to assist with the Netherlands migration.

“The Alten PTS consultants were excellent, and helped us accelerate the deployment significantly,” comments Ton van Haren. “Although it was in many respects a ‘first-of-its-kind’ project in terms of the scale of the migration, we completed the configuration management part of it within just four months.”

In addition, Alten PTS created course materials and provided training to help the Dutch development team get up to speed with the new solution quickly. The Alten consultants also provided ongoing support throughout the project.

Realizing the benefits
With the new solution in place, developers can now use Rational Team Concert remotely, via a virtual private network (VPN) connection. FEI can also provide access to the solution for third parties and contractors from various countries much more easily, helping teams at multiple sites to collaborate effectively.

“There are also a lot of technical improvements in the way Team Concert handles certain things,” explains Ton van Haren. “For example, it’s easy to query the repository and find out the change history for a specific piece of code, and it’s now possible to remove streams and repositories, which allows us to experiment. There are also some powerful ‘undo’ and ‘discard’ functions that help with everyday tasks.”

Looking to the future
As FEI’s deployment of Rational Team Concert becomes more mature, the team will increase its use of additional features such as issue management, and ultimately project planning and tracking. In addition to the productivity improvements created by using a single system for multiple aspects of software lifecycle management, this should also help to reduce the need for other tools, cutting software maintenance and licensing costs.

“In the near future we will be upgrading to version 4.0.1, which we hope will enhance the support for Visual Studio and improve the command line interface,” says Michal Talanda. “We’re also planning to develop some tooling of our own to help with merging code streams.”

Kean Stump concludes: “As our development teams gain more experience with Rational Team Concert, we expect to see a boost to productivity and a reduction in overall costs. We haven’t finished our journey, and – as with any project on this scale – there have been some bumps in the road. But with help from IBM and Alten PTS, we’ve already proved that migrating from legacy platforms to Rational Team Concert is possible without significant disruption to development processes or risk to the business.”

About Alten PTS
Alten is a leading service provider in the field of technical consultancy and engineering. Alten’s 300 highly qualified staff support many leading technically oriented companies in a wide variety of projects. In the Netherlands, Alten provides services for technical automation, electro-mechanics, robotics and installation. Alten PTS, the business unit involved in technical software development, is an IBM Business Partner for IBM Rational software. With in-depth knowledge of Rational solutions, Alten PTS can support its clients and supply the right expertise for their projects.

To learn more about products, services and solutions from Alten PTS, please visit www.alten.nl

Products and services used

IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

Software:
Rational Team Concert

Service:
Software Services for Rational

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2013. IBM Nederland hoofdkantoor, Johan Huizingalaan 765, 1066 VH Amsterdam. Produced in the Netherlands. July 2013. IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, ClearCase, Rational and Rational Team Concert are trademarks of International Business Machines Corp., registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. Other product and service names might be trademarks of IBM or other companies. A current list of IBM trademarks is available on the web at: www.ibm.com/legal/copytrade.shtml. IBM and Alten PTS are separate companies and each is responsible for its own products. Neither IBM nor Alten PTS makes any warranties, express or implied, concerning the other’s products. This document is current as of the initial date of publication and may be changed by IBM at any time. Not all offerings are available in every country in which IBM operates. The client examples cited are presented for illustrative purposes only. Actual performance results may vary depending on specific configurations and operating conditions. It is the user’s responsibility to evaluate and verify the operation of any other products or programs with IBM products and programs. THE INFORMATION IN THIS DOCUMENT IS PROVIDED “AS IS” WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING WITHOUT ANY WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND ANY WARRANTY OR CONDITION OF NON-INFRINGEMENT. IBM products are warranted according to the terms and conditions of the agreements under which they are provided. Statements regarding IBM’s future direction and intent are subject to change or withdrawal without notice, and represent goals and objectives only.