I guess folks have become conditioned in our technological world to divide things up into little buckets so they can get better understand what is going on. Unfortunately Rational products have had several different "bucketing" schemes depending on which ones you have experience with. Rational Robot and Rational TestManager, for example, had a test repository that we called a project. This project contained all of the test assets and results associated with a particular testing effort. Although it worked pretty well for a small team working together, the test repository pretty much had to be local (on the LAN) with the testers and the test machines or it did not have acceptable performance characteristics. Rational ClearQuest introduced a slightly different concept with its schema repository that links up with a project from TestManager but was considerably broader in scope. The schema repository holds all change records, action items, requests for enhancements, defect records, or any arbitrary records that you want to track across your entire business area or possibly even your entire enterprise.
When the Jazz platform was introduced and a new family of products were built on it, they decided on yet another similar (but different) concept as its partitioning unit, the project area. This project area concept was still different from either of the previous two concepts. The project area is more akin to the schema repository of Rational ClearQuest that the project from Rational TestManager. The project area provides a complete isolation of all stored artifacts from those stored in other project areas. This permits a single installation of a Jazz server to provide its services to multiple totally independent projects or business units. However, because end users are so accustomed to chopping up their little projects into separate partitions that their first instinct is to put every project into a separate Jazz project area. This is a huge mistake in a lot of cases! If for example you wish to share or re-use assets across projects or releases, you will need to have them all in a single project area. There have been features added to Jazz products such as Rational Quality Manager's concept of Test Plan or Test Case categories to facilitate viewing project specific data. These categories permit per project reporting and management while keeping all of the test assets together in one project area. The intent of the products' design is to permit easy sharing, re-use, linking, and copying of assets within a project area so the users can benefit from the productivity advantages of these concepts. Hopefully, as we discuss the Jazz products more with our customers, they can get comfortable with not slicing and dicing their project up into separate project areas. Over the past few months, I have found that this single issue has engendered user disappointment by the lack of cross-project area linkage when it is really not intended nor needed if the customer's usage of the tool is properly aligned with its design. If you have a customer (or if you are one), please take this discussion into consideration during the application of the new Jazz products.