Collabnet, the next stage

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Content Copyright © 2014 Bloor. All Rights Reserved.
Also posted on: The Norfolk Punt

I’ve always had a soft spot for Collabnet. It created Subversion, which it ultimately handed over to the Apache foundation and which is just about the only configuration management product that ever managed to be sexy (for background, see the book I co-wrote with Shirley Lacy, here; Subversion is just software configuration management)—although it was well-named as it managed to subvert a lot of development governance initiatives for a lot of companies. Governance is a matter of culture and matching capabilities with needs, not just about buying (or downloading) fashionable tools (see my article  here)—and mandating tools without getting buy-in from developers usually doesn’t work well. Especially when they can simply download Subversion (which does the job, if all you want is basic software version management), instead of what they were told to use.

Actually, Subversion can be part of a lot more than version management. If you invest in tools around it, Subversion (as well as GIT) can become part of a collaborative software delivery environment for Agile ALM (Application Lifecycle Management). What you then get is a federated ALM solution, including software configuration management, built on Collabnet’s Teamforge framework (and I like the idea of federation, as it can bring in interesting Open Source tools not written by Collabnet). Collabnet tells a good story around Agile and cloud development, including its supply of Agile training, which currently seems to be a strong part of its commercial success. Agile training is necessary because Agile, done propely, needs more discipline, expertise and maturity than old-style development, although it usually also delivers business outcomes with less waste than is associated with older approaches.

The big news now is that CollabNet has been acquired by Vector Capital. The way it was told to me, by Jan Liband (VP, Marketing at CollabNet, Inc.), Agile has now come of age in the enterprise and Collabnet needs to capitalise on its longterm investment in Agile, and in agile engineering practices like DevOps, and compete with innovative newcomers, with new and clever point solutions. For which, it needs more capital; and Vector allows it to expand, hire more people and make some strategic acquisitions. This seems like a good move to me, although Collabnet will have some cultural changes to manage, associated with its expansion, even though it (sensibly) seems not to be making major changes to personnel and management, in the short/medium term, at least.