In a move seen by some as a threat to Microsoft, VA Software expects to release a Project Management Console for Solaris and Linux servers within the next 30 to 45 days. Introduced as part of SourceForge Enterprise Edition 3.2, the console is expected to offer "real time" metrics and analytics, along with hooks to Microsoft Project, Rational Clearcase, the IBM-funded Eclipse Project, and other outside environments.
VA's project console will help "align business with development, that 'mystic area' in the back," predicted David Applebaum, VA's senior VP of marketing.
"The guys who are geared to managing projects haven't had a full view into the development cycle, up to now. After the (project requirements) are thrown over the wall, (development) might turn out a project three months late and a couple of thousand dollars over budget. This will help people to get their thoughts in line. We're enabling them to create what they need in real time, with an emphasis on integrating existing tools," Applebaum contended.
The Project Management Console will be one element of an "application life cycle management environment" that also spans knowledge management, business intelligence, and development tools, according to Applebaum. SourceForge Enterprise Edition 3.1, the immediate predecessor to the upcoming release, also had some project management functionality, but not nearly as much.
As some analysts see it, VA faces no direct competition in this space, at the moment. "The general area of collaborative software development is still kind of an amorphous space. It's really more of an idea than a market. Most collaboration is still being done through things like (Lotus) Notes and e-mail," said Dick Heiman, an analyst at IDG.
Other observers, though, point to industry rumors that a product in the same category might be under development at Microsoft.
Meanwhile, under a deal announced in August, VA and IBM agreed to jointly market and sell SourceForge Enterprise Edition 3.1.On the knowledge management side, VA's 3.2 edition will allow context-driven searches of "code artifacts, news articles, e-mails, and anything else that's text-related," according to Applebaum.
The realtime metrics of the Project Management Console will track "everything from code hand-offs, to differences between versions, to whether people are getting through the bug list," he said. "It also looks at code reuse. Whose code is being reused the most? Who are the superstars?"
In terms of business intelligence, the software will be able to predict that "you're going to have resource contraints, or you're going to miss this milestone," for instance. "What are the dependencies? If you set a date out, what's the effect on the rest of the project? How can you realign your resources?"
Project managers can log in to the console for status reports. If a project falls behind schedule, for instance, the console will generate an alert.
According to Applebaum, no other vendor offers this range of capabilities at the present time "Progeny does project management. But there are other areas that come into play, such as integration of content. What we have is more holistic," he maintained.
Applebaum acknowledged, though, that he wouldn't be surprised to see Microsoft enter the "application life cycle management" ring. "I'm sure Microsoft is working on something along these lines. Right now, however, Microsoft is really focused on .NET as a strategy. It will take some time before they start to extend outside of .NET," he said.
The first version of SourceForge Enterprise Edition, rolled out about 18 months ago, was based directly on the development platform used to support VA's SourceForge.net open source development project.
"The open source version, though, is a free service. The commercial product is for enterprise environments," he said. VA created the new Project Management Console outside of SourceForge.net, according to Applebaum.
About 25 enterprises are currently using VA's product, including Legato Systems, Pfizer, Lockheed Mart, General Atomics, and Sandia National Laboratories. The software is targeted at big organizations in government, manufacturing, financial services, communications, and transportation and utilities.
In version 3.1, VA added Solaris support to its previous support for Linux servers. "Right now, we're probably seeing a 60/40 split between Solaris vs. Linux," Applebaum said.
Applebaum added, though, that he's seen "more of an uptick in Linux interest" since VA unveiled its deal with IBM in August. Also under the deal, VA agreed to create a product called SourceForge Enterprise Edition for DB2, which was expected to ship by the end of this year.
VA has also built a working interface to IBM WebSphere, which enables integration between Enterprise and Eclipse, according to Applebaum. 3.2 also includes interfaces to Microsoft Project and Rational Clearcase. Like IBM, Rational is one of the founding stewards of Eclipse, a multivendor open source development project
The FSB-compatible Enterprise Edition 3.2 will run on Red Hat Advanced Server, as well as Sun Solaris servers. Developers will be able to work in both Microsoft and Java environments. Version 3.2 will support Oracle and Postgress databases, in addition to DB2.
Version 3.2 is still in closed beta, but Applebaum said that SourceForge will probably open up the beta closer to the general release date. "Interested people can contact us," he added.
Enterprise Edition 3.2 will be sold directly by VA. List pricing is $2,725 per seat. A preview is available at http://www.vasoftware.com.