Adopting the IBM Continuous Engineering (CE) solution Configuration Management Capability

Adopting the IBM Continuous Engineering (CE) solution Configuration Management Capability is the title of a webinar that Kathryn Fryer and I recently presented.  We’ve been working with ‘new’ configuration management capability since it was in development prior to its launch in v6.0.  Adopting it takes careful consideration in order to successfully realize its benefits.

Objectives of the presentation

In version 6, the IBM CE solution added exciting new configuration management capabilities across the lifecycle, better enabling parallel development and strategic reuse. Simply enabling these capabilities won’t help you realize their potential; you must consider changes to your process and usage model to achieve results. This presentation describes current considerations, limitations and strategies for adopting configuration management.

  • Configuration management overview
  • Trade-offs and considerations – as of current release (6.0.2)
    • Primary factors
    • Reporting
    • OSLC integrations
    • Linking
    • QM utilities
    • Additional considerations
  • Enabling configuration management
  • Upgrade and migration
  • Adoption path and additional resources

If you are interested in this presentation, you can find the replay of the webinar here in the DOORS Enlightenment Series.

The slides are shared here.

Additional Reading

Configuration Management much improved in CLM 6.0.1

The 6.0 release of the Rational solution for Collaborative Lifecycle Management (CLM) included the addition of new configuration management capabilities.  It had some limitations to consider, that is, temporary differences in some CLM capabilities when configuration management is enabled for a project versus not.  Some workarounds for these were detailed in Finding suspect links and requirements to reconcile in CLM 6.0 configuration management enabled projects and Alternatives to filtering on lifecycle traceability links in CLM 6.0 configuration management enabled projects

I am happy to say that the development team worked hard to address these and more in the 6.0.1 release.  A few considerations still remain, but far less than were in the previous release.  I am now comfortable recommending its use by many of my customers.  In this blog entry, I will compare and contrast the configuration management limitations between 6.0 and 6.0.1 and highlight a few other configuration management enhancements.

Considerations from v6.0 and their improvements in v6.0.1:

  1. Will you use the configuration management capabilities in a production environment or a pilot environment?

  2. Will you upgrade all CLM applications to 6.0?

  3. Do your configuration-enabled RM or QM project areas link to other RM or QM project areas?

    While these first three considerations all remain true, they were moved to the ‘Important Factors’ section as they are more recommendations and best practices versus changes in behavior from non-enabled projects.  In v6.0, configuration management was new and we thought it better to draw attention to these recommendations so included them at the top of the v6.0 considerations list.

    Piloting use of configuration management is recommended due to its complexities and to ensure it meets your needs.  It also gives opportunity to try out new usage models/workflows before implementing in production.

    Keeping all the CLM apps at the same v6.0.x rev level is the only practical way to take advantage of all the configuration management capabilities and ensure they work correctly.

    Because of the new linking model in v6.0 when using configuration management, it will always be the case that you’ll want to enable configuration management for all the RM and QM projects between which you’ll be linking artifacts otherwise linking will not always work as desired.

  4. Which type of reporting do you need?

    In v6.0, configuration-aware reporting was available for document generation only.  All other options were technology preview only and not to be used in production.  In v6.0.1, document generation continues to be available using built-in, template-based reporting in the CLM application or by IBM Rational Publishing Engine; it now includes interactive reporting through the Jazz Reporting Service Report Builder and Rational Engineering Lifecycle Manager. 

    Most configuration aware data is now available.  v6.0.1 added version aware data for DOORS Next Generation, versioned data in global and local configurations and Rational Team Concert enumeration values.  This means, for example, that you can construct a report that spans requirements, work items and tests for a particular configuration or a report that includes artifacts from multiple project areas within the same domain. Some gaps remain in available configuration aware data and some is only available via custom SPARQL queries.  Take a look at the limitations section of Getting started with reporting by using LQE data sources

    Access control for reporting on LQE data sources is now enforced at the project area level for RM, CCM and QM applications .  Project-area level access control is not yet implemented for DM and Link Validity (can be set manually in LQE).

  5. Do you need to link or synchronize your CLM project area data with other tools, products, or databases (including IBM, in-house, or other tools)?

    Most OSLC-based integrations outside the CLM applications do not support versioned artifacts.  To do so requires support for OASIS OSLC Configuration Management spec (draft).  We do expect the list of supporting applications to grow over time.  Note that integrations to RTC work items continue to work as expected, because work items aren’t versioned.  Several RQM test execution adapters have been verified to work correctly with enabled projects.  We expect progress to be made in this area throughout 2016 with other IBM and third-party applications.  For information on setting up configuration aware integrations, see Enabling your application to integrate with configuration-management-enabled CLM applications.

  6. Do you rely on suspect links for requirements in RM or for requirement reconciliation in QM?

    In v6.0.1, the new Link Validity Service replaces “suspect links”.  Now you can show and assert the validity of links between requirements, and between requirements and test artifacts.  Automatic “suspect” assertion occurs when attributes change.  Validity status is reused across configurations when the same artifacts with the same content are linked in multiple configurations.

    QM requirements reconciliation against linked requirements collections is now available in configuration management enabled projects. 

  7. Do you need to filter views based on lifecycle traceability links?

    RTC plans can now be linked to versioned requirements collections and test plans in v6.0.1.  What remains in this limitation area is it is still not yet possible in configuration management enabled projects to filter RM views based on lifecycle traceability status nor filter QM views based on RTC work item and plan traceability links.  These should all be addressed in a subsequent release.

  8. (For QM users) Do you use command-line tools, the mobile application for off-line execution, or import from Microsoft Excel or Word?

    In the v6.0.1 release, all command-line tools but the Mobile application for offline execution utility are now configuration aware and can be used with configuration management enabled projects.

The v6.0.1 release includes some other configuration management enhancements of note unrelated to the limitations/considerations:

  • One step creation of global configuration baseline hierarchy
  • Bulk create streams for selected baselines in the context of a global stream
  • Requirements change management supported by optionally requiring change sets to edit contents of a stream and further requiring those change sets to be associated with an approved work item to deliver those changes
  • Improved ability to deliver changes across streams that require merging of modules
  • Several improvements to make it easier to work with DNG change sets in personal streams

See v6.0.1 CLM New & Noteworthy for more details on these and other improvements.

One other enhancement not yet fully realized is the provision for Fine Grain Components.  Currently each project area is a component, which could to a proliferation of project areas for complex product hierarchies.  The intent in future is to support more granularity of component breakdown within a project area.  More work remains to get this fully supported.  In the mean time, some customers may limit their adoption of configuration management until this is supported.

To wrap up, I believe we’ve made great strides in improving the configuration management capability and addressing the limitations from its initial release.  To me, the primary limitation that will constrain a customer’s adoption of the capability is whether the needed integrations to 3rd party or other IBM applications are configuration aware and secondarily if there are any aspects of the configuration aware reporting that won’t meet there reporting needs. 

To give this release a try, you can download CLM v6.0.1 or access one of our sandboxes already populated with sample data (select the latest CLM milestone “with configuration management” when creating your sandbox).

Alternatives to filtering on lifecycle traceability links in CLM 6.0 configuration management enabled projects

Today I’d like to continue on the theme started in Finding suspect links and requirements to reconcile in Collaborative Lifecycle Management (CLM) 6.0 configuration management enabled projects by addressing another consideration from Enabling configuration management in CLM 6.0 applications.

Do you need to filter views based on lifecycle traceability links?

In CLM 6.0 for those projects with configuration management enabled, you can view artifacts with their lifecycle traceability links, but cannot filter by those relationships.  There are three key areas this impacts:

  • Limit by lifecycle status in DOORS Next Generation (DNG)
  • Traceability views for RQM test artifacts
  • Linking RTC plans to artifact collections

I’ll explore some alternative workarounds to these in this blog.

Limit by lifecycle status in DOORS Next Generation (DNG)

In CLM 5.x, views of requirements artifacts can be filtered by the status of lifecycle artifacts linked to them.  The same is true in CLM 6.0 but only for projects that don’t have configuration management enabled.  This limitation should be addressed in a future release by work item 97071.   Below is an example showing all feature requirements with failed test case runs.

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Similarly, the following shows all feature requirements whose linked development items have been resolved.

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In CLM 6.0, for configuration management enabled projects, the lifecycle status filter option doesn’t even appear.

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It is still possible to show a view of requirements with their lifecycle traceability links shown; it’s only the filtering that isn’t possible (at present).

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Here you could scroll through the Validated By column, for instance, and manually scan for test cases whose icon indicated a failure occurred.  This wouldn’t be viable for more than a short list of requirements.

What’s needed then is to display a view/query of the linked artifacts, filtered appropriately, and display, if possible, their linked requirements.

For example, show all failed test case runs in Rational Quality Manager (RQM) and their associated requirements.  When displaying all test cases, you can see visually by their associated icon, whether the test case has been run successfully or not.  This isn’t ideal given you aren’t able to filter by the test case status and must instead visually pick out the failed runs.  It does, however, show the linked requirement being validated.

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Alternatively, show a view of test case results and filter by their status.  Below is a list of test case results that are Failed or Blocked and their associated test case.

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Unfortunately, it doesn’t also show the related requirement.  Instead you would need to drill down into the test case from the failed run and see its linked requirements.

Use of the Jazz Reporting Service Report Builder may be an option in limited cases.  First, it’s use for configuration management aware reporting is Technology Preview in 6.0 and only really contains configuration data for RQM.  For DNG, only the default configuration data is included for configuration management enabled DNG projects.  If your requirements configuration management needs are basic, where a single configuration/stream is sufficient, this may be an option.

For example, the following report shows all requirements with failed/blocked test case runs.

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Now you’ll likely have multiple DNG projects.  DNG doesn’t publish project area data to the Lifecycle Query Engine (LQE) using Configurations data source so you can’t choose only those requirements artifacts from a given project, limit scope by that project nor set a condition to query by some DNG project area attribute.  You can, however, choose test artifacts for a given project area (and configuration) so if there’s a 1:1 relationship between DNG and RQM projects, you can produce a report that just shows the requirements from failed test case runs in the desired RQM project belonging to the desired global configuration (this is what is shown in the previous screenshot).

I tried looking at this from the opposite direction, that is, show all failed/blocked test case runs and their associated requirements.  You get the right list of failed runs, but it shows all their associated requirements, not all of which were tested and failed in that run.

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For the other example I gave earlier, show all requirements whose linked development items were resolved, you could go to Rational Team Concert (RTC) and run a lifecycle query such as Plan Items implementing Requirements, but you’d need to visually look for plan items whose status met your criteria as the query isn’t editable and thus you couldn’t add a filter.

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Traceability views for RQM test artifacts

In CLM 5.x, views of test artifacts can be filtered by the presence (or not) of a linked development item.

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The same is true in CLM 6.0 but only for projects that don’t have configuration management enabled.  RQM projects that have configuration management enabled, don’t include that filter option.  This limitation should be addressed in a future release by work item 134672.

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From this view, you would then need to visually scan the Test Development Item column for whichever condition you needed.

RTC has some lifecycle queries, such as Plan Items with no Test Case or Plan Items with failing Tests that could help.

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Here again, Report Builder could help as you could construct a report that shows test cases with or without associated work items.  For example, the report below shows test cases without any work item associated.

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Linking RTC plans to artifact collections

In CLM 5.x, it is possible to link an RTC plan to a DNG requirements collection and/or a RQM test plan.  Use of these grouped artifacts allows for shared scope and constraints across these lifecycle plans and are useful in auto filling gaps in plans or reconciling changes.

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In CLM 6.0, links to collections and test plans from an RTC plan only resolve to the default configuration in the project they reside in.  In other words, you cannot link an RTC plan to a versioned requirements collection or test plan.  This limitation should be addressed in a future release by work item 355613.  The primary limitation that translates to is you are unable to auto generate workitems for requirements in a collection when working with projects that have configuration management enabled.

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Missing that capability then the only work around is to manually create the workitems so that every requirement in the collection is linked to a corresponding work item.

A traceability plan view in RTC that includes a color filter will help identify those plan items without requirements links.

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Such a view will highlight cases where a work item may need to be removed as the scope has changed, e.g. the collection has had requirements removed.

In DNG, view the collection with the Implemented By column included and scan for requirements with no corresponding work item.

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If your requirements set is too large to view manually, export the collection view to a CSV file then open the exported file and filter or sort by the Implemented By column to more easily see those requirements without work items.

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Conclusion

Of the limitations discussed, I find the first one, inability to filter by lifecycle status, will be more problematic for customers though I’ve found it’s usage to be mixed.  I’m also not particularly enamored with the workarounds described because they too are limited and involve some manual steps.  I would be interested in hearing how significant these limitations are in your environment or if you have additional ideas on workarounds for them.

Finding suspect links and requirements to reconcile in CLM 6.0 configuration management enabled projects

The newly released CLM 6.0 has some great configuration management across the lifecycle capabilities.  As described in Enabling configuration management in CLM 6.0 applications there are some considerations to be made before enabling configuration management.  One of these is

Do you rely on suspect links for requirements in RM or for requirement reconciliation in QM?

The reason being is that in this release, automatic detection of suspect links (artifacts that need to be evaluated and possibly modified because a linked artifact has changed) is not working in configuration management enabled DOORS Next Generation (DNG) projects. Further, the requirements reconciliation process in Rational Quality Manager (RQM) to find any changed/deleted requirements impacting associated test cases is also not supported in configuration management enabled RQM projects.  Note that a new mechanism for determining link suspicion is intended for a future release, in the interim though, teams must use a workaround.  I’ll explore some of those in this blog.

Suspect Links Workaround

To determine what requirements have changed and which impacted test cases may need updating, we’ll need to look at a test coverage view of requirements filtered by a some modified date.  It’s likely that you’ll want to know which requirements have changed since the last release baseline.

Let’s assume we are working in the AMR Mobile US global configuration in DNG.  Open the Configuration Context Banner Button (CCBB) and navigate to the global configuration.

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Show the baselines for this global configuration.

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Observe the most recent baseline is AMR Mobile 3.0 US GA.  Drill down into it and see the baseline was created on May 27, 2015, 12:35:23 AM.

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Note at this time, baselines for the each of the contributors to the global configuration must be created first before the baseline for the global configuration can be committed/finalized.  This means there likely be some time disparity between the global configuration baseline and the baselines for contributing local configurations (they could be earlier or later than the global configuration creation date).  For this reason, it’d be more accurate to use the local configuration baseline creation time for the filtering.  While looking at the global configuration baseline, select the row with the desired local configuration and observe its creation time on the right.

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While viewing requirements of interest, likely on a per module by module basis, e.g. AMR System Requirements, open a Test Coverage view and add a Filter by Attribute for Modified on set to be after the baseline date.

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Here we see there have been four requirements altered, two which have no linked test case, but may need one if they are new, and two that have linked test cases, but may need to be updated.

Now you could look at each individual requirement one by one to understand if they are new or modified.  In this example, opening requirement 1830 shows it has been created since the baseline date.

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You could also add the Created On attribute to the view columns displayed.

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This requirement doesn’t have a related test case so now you would evaluate whether one should be created.

Looking at requirement 517, you observe that it was created before the baseline and modified since.  There is a related test case but you need to understand what the change was to better evaluate if it necessitates a change in the test case.

Open the requirement history and get a sense of the changes.

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Should the changes be such that a reevaluation of the test case is warranted, follow the Validated By links to navigate to the test case(s) and check if they need updating.

To track the potential impact of those substantive requirement changes, you could tag the requirements and create a traceability view to look only at those.

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Alternatively, create a Tracked By link from the suspect requirement to a new RTC work item task that would be assigned to the test team to evaluate whether any linked test cases should be updated.

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Now rather than going through each requirement individually, an alternative is to make use of the Compare Configuration capability to compare the current local DNG configuration/stream to the DNG baseline included in the AMR Mobile 3.0 US GA baseline.

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The compare results will show additions, changes and deletions to project properties, folders and artifacts.  With this information, the analyst can make a reasonable determination of how substantive each change was.  Armed with this information, they would need to return to the Test Coverage view(s) and tag the appropriate requirements as suspect and/or create RTC work items to analyze the linked test cases.  Note that previously we were looking at requirements changes on a per module basis (if modules were being used) but the Compare Configuration will look at all changes to all artifacts across the stream, that is, consolidating all change and not giving a module perspective.

Now if you were paying attention to my scenario,  you’ll notice that the last screen shot above, showing the results of the compare, doesn’t line up with the Test Coverage view shown earlier as the system requirements that were shown to have changed since the baseline are not shown in the compare results.  No, this isn’t a bug in the software.  I was using a shared internal sandbox whose configuration was changed in between the time when I started writing this blog and the time I tried to capture the compare results.  Rather than trying recreate the scenario, I left things as they were as I think I still get the concept across (though the anal side of me really has a problem with it all not lining up!).

Requirements Reconciliation Workaround

Requirements reconciliation is a capability in RQM that looks at the requirements linked to a test case or the requirement collection linked to a test plan and determine if there are new, updated or deleted requirements that necessitate changes in the test case(s).  In CLM 6.0, requirements reconciliation is not supported in projects that have configuration management enabled.

While you can query for test cases changed since a certain baseline date, this doesn’t really help determine if there are test cases to be updated due to requirements changes.  It’s not possible from RQM to query on test cases and filter based on attributes of the linked requirements.

Thus, the reconciliation process would need to be driven by DNG such that the tester would need to use the same technique used by the analyst for the suspect links workaround.  That is, the tester would look at a test coverage view of requirements in DNG, filtered to show requirements updates since the baseline date and evaluate if a test case addition, deletion or update was warranted.  This process would be further helped if the analysts used tagging as previously described so that that tester wouldn’t need to sift through all the requirements to find only those with substantive changes.  Use of impact analysis tasks in RTC would as well.

Use of these test coverage views would only identify requirements added or changed since the baseline.  It would not list requirements removed.  So for a comprehensive view of requirements changes that need to be reconciled with test cases, RM stream needs to be compared against the baseline to see any requirements that have been deleted.

Conclusion

While it is unfortunate that this initial release of the global configuration management capability doesn’t include support for suspect links and requirements reconciliation, there are some manual workarounds available, while not ideal, can help mitigate the gap until such time such time a replacement is available.  For some customers, such a manual process may be untenable due to the volume of changes between baselines.  Rather than performing the analysis after the fact, perhaps being more proactive about flagging potential impacts from the beginning of and throughout the release is more appropriate.  As requirements get changed, assess then whether there are test case updates needed by tagging the requirement and/or creating an impact analysis task in RTC.  These can be reviewed/refined at different milestones throughout the release.  Again not ideal but does distribute the analysis burden.