Yin meets yang
Blog Authors: Valerie Skinner 060000VKGS is part of the IBM developerWorks team, getting to know the real developers who make up the My developerWorks community and exploring the world of social networking. I'm enjoying learning what makes developers tick! I'm very interested in exploring online communities and social media and understanding real world application - how they can help people solve problems and work together.
vskinner 060000VKGS Tags:  jazz rtc rational_team_concert rational interview alm 3 Comments 4,280 Visits
This week get to know Matt Holitza and hear about exciting new things happening around Jazz and Application Lifecycle Management.
Tell me about yourself and what you're currently working on...
I'm Matt Holitza, I live in Broomfield, Colorado, where I live with my wife Leanne and my two sons Mason (9) and Jack (5). I'm a solution marketing manager for the Rational brand. Specifically, I evangelize the practice and associated tooling related to Application Lifecycle Management (ALM). I'm currently working on the Jazz million seat march, an initiative to share the power of the Jazz platform with the world by offering a free community edition of our flagship product, Rational Team Concert, for a team of up to 10 developers.
How do you stay in touch with the real life challenges customers are facing?
Well in many ways, before joining IBM I was a Rational customer for about 10 years, so I can draw from my own experiences in that regard. But nothing is more valuable than talking with customers. I frequently attend and speak at the local Rational User Group meeting and also a member of the global Rational User Group. I stay linked in to the popular ALM community sites like developerWorks and CM Crossroads. I also frequently attend trade shows, which provides me with a great opportunity to hear from practitioners and managers about the challenges they are face on a day-to-day basis. In addition, for the past 2 years I have planned the change and configuration management track for Rational's annual conference, Innovate. This provides me with an opportunity to work directly with our customer presenters as they prepare for the conference.
Before working at IBM, you were a QA manager, how does that give you a unique perspective?
I was a QA Manager in my last role, and I've served in many different roles in my career including a COBOL developer, a test automation lead and a Rational ClearQuest administrator, to name a few. As I mentioned earlier, I frequently draw on my own experiences as a sanity check when I'm working on new assets or campaigns. In the software development world, probably more than any other software discipline, the decisions to purchase new tooling is very heavily influenced by practitioners, team leads and first line managers, so my broad background keeps me grounded and more pragmatic. I do often think about how much easier my job as a QA Manager would have been if the Jazz products were available 5 years ago.
How do you think software development will be different in 5 years?
Wow, that's a great question. I think the trend toward distributed development will continue, and at the same time the current concept of outsourcing will dissipate in favor of an expert sourcing model where organizations will onboard and leverage experts wherever they may be located. I also think that Agile practices and tools will be the predominant method of delivering software. To support a distributed Agile paradigm, the application lifecycle management tools will have to evolve so organizations will be able to more effectively collaborate from remote locations. I know that IBM Research is working on a project named Olympus which is intended to take development collaboration to the next level.
Tell me a little bit about Rational Team Concert - what's the coolest thing about it? What is the best-kept secret about it that you wish more people knew?
Well, I've talked a bit about Team Concert already. I've been around Rational for a long time, either as a customer, or now as a member of the marketing team, and I have to say that Rational Team Concert is, by far, the best product we've ever created. Rational Team Concert(RTC) is a lean ALM solution. It has integrated change management, source code control, build automation, interactive planning, real-time dashboards and out-of-the-box Agile process templates.
The coolest thing about Team Concert is that it's free for 10 developers and that it can be adopted as either a full solution or as a collaboration hub for products that a customer may have already invested in. It comes with an out-of-the-box integration to Subversion and Git, which are both popular open source version control tools.
My favorite feature is the interactive release planning. It allows distributed teams to plan, estimate and monitor their releases and iterations as if they were co-located. This planning component comes with a schedule risk assessment feature which allows release managers to predict whether they will be able to deliver on-time using Monte Carlo analysis based on bottoms-up estimates provided by the developers.
Something else I should mention is that Team Concert isn't just for Java shops, it is truly technology agnostic. Team Concert can be used for teams developing Visual Studio.Net, System z or Power (aka System i).
What advice would you give a software development team considering moving to Rational Team Concert?
Team Concert is built using open standards, and as such allows organizations to gradually adopt it as their central change and collaboration hub for development, while still leveraging the investments they've made in their existing tools. So teams don't have to rip and replace, they can adopt Team Concert incrementally.
How are you using social networking today?
I use social networking to connect with our customer communities and other ALM communities. Social networking helps me keep apprised of noteworthy happenings in the ALM world. I also maintain several communities on Facebook - We have a very active Team Concert Facebook fan page. I also leverage Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube to share new offers, videos and promotions with the ALM community.
Are you a gadget junkie? What type of gadgets do you use?
To my wife's angst I'd consider myself an early adopter and so yes I am a bit of a gadget junkie. My favorite gadget is my iTouch, I can now use it as a remote control for my home laptop to watch my favorite TV shows on hulu.com and have since eliminated cable. I also like to hike, for that I use my Garmin Forerunner GPS watch to tell me how far I’ve gone, how high I’ve climbed, average slope, but most importantly now I can also give my boys an exact answer when they ask me “How much further daddy?”
- Thanks Matt!
This week get to know Jonas Martinsson, a product manager at Mainsoft creating integration with software platforms from IBM, Microsoft and Google. Connect with Jonas at:
His profile on My developerWorks
Tell me about yourself and what you're currently working on...
I am a product manager at Mainsoft, where we create products integrating various software platforms from IBM, Microsoft and Google. We focus on making collaboration easy and ubiquitous for end-users.
What first sparked your interest in technology?
My parents got me a Commodore 64 in the eighties, on which I spent endless hours developing programs around my ideas. Ever since those days, my fascination for technology has fueled innovative product ideas. I frequently update a huge document named "Projects for a Rainy Day". I hope to eventually get a chance to work on a couple of them.
Tell me about one of your favorite Mainsoft integrations with IBM products that you've worked on...
Having to choose one, I'd say the integration between Lotus Notes and SharePoint. If you're like the majority of knowledge workers, you send and receive document attachments on a daily basis. You probably never reflect on alternative approaches, but with this solution you put the documents on the collaboration server, and send document links to your colleagues instead. This makes a lot of sense on many different levels; for example, you will avoid parallel conflicts when many editors are collaboration on a document, while simplifying your Inbox.
As a former software developer, what do you think about Jazz and the movement towards collaborative development?
I am excited to see how Jazz changes the landscape for developers. For Java developers, I see Jazz as the natural choice for development environment. What I love most about Jazz is its great balance between getting up to speed quickly and assisting you to use a proven development process.
You have a long-standing interest in agile, with a master's thesis on the Capability Maturity Model (CMM). What's happening in agile these days that you're keeping an eye on?
In its early days, agile had a bad reputation in the higher echelon of organizations. It was a grassroots movement back then. I am thrilled to see agile becoming ubiquitous in the IT sector. Actually, the situation has changed so much now that we have an opposite problem; organizations claim agility, even if they just adopt a subset of the agile values. That's why I think the next logical step for the agile community should be to clearly communicate what agile is. The agile manifesto is a good start, but we need more.
The biggest challenge for a truly agile adoption is, and has always been, that it requires a shift in the organization's culture. I don't believe that there is a uniform approach to successfully tackling this critical challenge.
I am also happy to see ideas from my thesis on integrating agile and the CMM finally being resonated, with initiatives such as Scott Ambler's Agile Scaling Model.
You worked as a software developer before becoming a product manager - How are these two roles different? Is there anything you miss about being a software developer?
I couldn't have been a successful software product manager without a developer background. This knowledge helps me to understand the possibilities, challenges and limitations of the development teams. What I love most about being a product manager is that I have a full picture of the organizational goals and efforts, and an important role to play for any future success. And, I have natural contact points with everyone in the organization.
I confess that I miss working with code from time to time. When I do, I spend time on my personal, award-winning project FeedJournal, where anyone can generate a personal newspaper from a set of favorite feeds. Running a micro-ISV like this is an amazing opportunity to get practice performing a bunch of different roles, from marketing to QA.
How do you use developerWorks?
Beside following interesting bloggers, such as Scott Ambler, our company uses My developerWorks internally to dogfood our integration product between Rational Jazz and Lotus Connections. I also enjoy listening to the developerWorks podcasts while commuting.
How do you use social networking in your day to day life?
I am writing for several blogs, and I am active on Twitter. I am also consuming over a hundred news feeds. I use Google Reader for shorter news alerts type feeds, and FeedJournal for really digesting longer articles. With the large amount of information that hits me daily, this is the only approach that works for me.
I've had a chance to interview a few people working in IT in Israel, and I've been very fascinated by the hotbed of high tech entrepreneurship happening there. What's it like working at a software company in Israel?
I spent the first ten years of my career in the Swedish IT industry. When I moved to Israel, I was in a good position to learn the differences between Swedish and Israel approaches to software development and organizational structure. Generally speaking, Israelis are entrepreneurially strong and amazing at working hard to reach early success. This is why we're seeing so many Israeli startups scoring risk capital and gaining exposure on the TechCrunch scene.
One of the strengths of the Swedish software organization is process awareness. The Swedish mindset is focused, organized and methodological, a recipe which earns rewards as companies grow and become more mature.
One of the things you are interested in is existential risk - now that would keep me up at night! Has the topic of existential risk changed the way you view your work in IT or vice versa?
Existential risk is an area I became interested in a couple of years ago. It is obviously difficult to underestimate the importance of this subject, if we do, it is game over. So far, I haven't had the opportunity to combine this interest with my software development background, but a lofty dream is to in any way contribute to our survival as a species.
I have to say, checking out your blog, you're a very interesting guy, with such a wide range of interests, from writing to chess to agile to piano to existential risk. How do these other pursuits help keep you sharp?
Thank you. I feel I am always obsessing over something. I guess that doing this, diving deep into interests, helps me to stay sharp.
- Thanks Jonas!