Thursday, April 26, 2012

HP ALM 11 version details

What is in the recently release HP ALM 11 version?

That HP is the market leader in the Quality Assurance and Testing tools space with a 50-60% of market share is no secret. If the version 11 of the suite of products released recently are any indication, HP intends to keep it that way for a very long time to come. Below are my notes from one of their latest road shows that I attended.

In this posts I comment on what Quality Centre 11 (QC 11), specifically the HP Sprinter feature within QC 11 has to offer us.
QC 11 is available in three editions -
  • The Starter Edition is a limited 5 user licensed edition with limited features (no change).
  • The Enterprise Edition includes all the features of QC 11.
  • The Premium Edition users in QC 10 upgrade into Application Life cycle Management 11 (ALM 11). ALM 11 in addition to enterprise edition features has the capability of Cross Project reporting features. Also added to the kitty is Planning and Tracking module, KPIs & Scorecard definition and a cool ALM Mobile      with iPhone integration.
QC 9 or QC 10 Enterprise edition users upgrade to the Enterprise Edition free of cost, as is the case with the upgrade from Premium Edition users of older versions into ALM 11. But moving from Enterprise edition of older version to ALM 11 comes with a price tag. More details should be available with your local HP Account Manager.

Since nearly 80% of the QC 10 users are in Enterprise Edition, let's examine QC 11. The new features under a lens shine in three colours. Firstly there are those that are essential to users as well as advanced in the offerings. Then there is this category of advanced features which may not be essential for users. Finally, there are those essential features for users but rudimentary in the offerings.

HP Sprinter as such falls under the first category. HP Sprinter is your answer to majority of those nagging productivity challenges the tester faces in her day to day manual testing activity . The features are well advanced as well. For example
  • You can now access both your application under test (AUT) and Test Lab/Defects modules simultaneously without alternating between screens.
  • You can run your tests directly ON the AUT and view/make edits to the test steps without alternating between QC screens and AUT.
  • Screenshots/movies can be directly saved in QC without have to use MS Excel/Paint as staging area.
  • In "Power Mode", your actions in the screen is captured in several formats - in the form of descriptive sentences, screen shots of the different screens and a story board. (A story board is a Hollywood Script Writer jumbo, if you already hadn't placed it).

However within HP Sprinter, there are some features which in my humble opinion may fall under the second and third category.
  • Data Injection is one such feature. It's true that you can predefine the data sets, load it along with your tests during execution and instruct Sprinter to load it into the system (after specifying the row of the data required). However the initial activity of predefining data sets looks cumbersome and not feasible for complex projects. 
  • Macros are features where you can record and replay (though the manuals have carefully distanced from such a direct specification). However I would wait for next releases to get an advanced version of this feature.
  • Mirroring Tests is a feature which allows you to create one test and run it in say different environments (IE, Firefox, Safari etc). Once again, this would be an essential feature for users,  however since the current version offers just record and replay capability, I would pass this feature until I get to see an advanced feature.

The best incentive of all to embrace HP Sprinter is the possibility to start using HP Sprinter without any migration from QC 10.

To summarize, the features when evaluated against the most frequently used parameters can be rated as below:

Parameters Rating
Value for money Is the effort spent for migration justified with the additional features? 7 For an Enterprise edition user in lower QC versions, there are several incentives to look forward to in the 'free of cost' upgrade to QC 11.
Are the features justified for a customer to upgrade to ALM 11, that comes with a price tag? 3 Implementing ALM 11's new features of Project Planning & Tracking and/or upgraded features of Requirements Management for a QC installation would result in huge change management as well as expensive migration effort. Considering the established and fairly advanced SDLC and Project Management processes in most of the organisation already using QC, an upgrade to ALM 11 from current enterprise edition would not be justified.
Ease of migration Ease of migration to QC 11 with the objective of business continuity 8 While customizations done to the QC 10 or earlier versions need to be manually verified/changed post upgrade, the upgrade itself is simplistic, given that you can now run to different versions 'side by side'
Ease of QC 11 implementation harnessing the new features in QC 11 4 While HP Sprinter can be used without customizations, the other new features with high impact  would need medium to high level of customization effort.
Performance Improved performance 7 Users should experience improved performance primarily because of the optimized file system through Smart Repository.
Integration with other tools Introduction of new integration with widely used tools across the SDLC 5 While integration with several new developer tools have been introduced, special considerations are required towards change management and focussed implementation effort to successfully integrate with these tools.