Software Development Outsourcing for IBM/Consul
The Customer is Consul Risk Management, Inc. that was acquired by IBM and became a part of IBM’s Tivoli software unit.
More than 350 customers around the world relied on Consul to accelerate log management and user monitoring, such as Ford, The New York Times, Philadelphia Stock Exchange, Aegon Canada Inc., Blue Cross, Fidelity Financial Services, Office Depot, Kroger, Wachovia, and government agencies. Consul has offices in the United States and the Netherlands, and 25 partners worldwide.
Consul was in the process of developing “Auditor-in-a-Box” software that would help organizations ensure internal security through comprehensive reports on user behavior and system activity. As a result, organizations would be able to easily reveal who accessed which parts of the system with real-time alerts and compare that activity to an established internal policy or external regulation.
However, Consul was overloaded with the project because of tough deadlines and not very effective project management processes, so their product releases lagged behind.
Having analyzed the Customer’s situation, ScienceSoft formed a self-managed outsourced team and organized the workflow allowing to collaborate without the physical presence at Consul’s office in the Netherlands. The team consisted of 19 developers, including architects and team leads, who integrated into Consul’s working environment seamlessly and quickly to deliver several product releases and a number of autonomous modules for the product in the most efficient way.
Integration into the Customer’s environment
ScienceSoft’s team established the development and test labs in accordance with Consul’s requirements and incorporated ScienceSoft’s working environment into Consul’s:
Merged local networks (a dedicated VPN connection was established).
Installed and merged knowledge databases with the work environment based on Lotus Domino DB.
Established communication channels with the Customer’s development team.
Cooperating with Consul, ScienceSoft delivered 4 product releases.
ScienceSoft used Microsoft Project Server for project planning to automate routine operations. For short-term releases, the team adopted the linear process, and for long-term releases – the iterative process. And each month 2 employees from ScienceSoft visited Consul onsite for knowledge transfer and development process improvement.
In the course of the collaboration, ScienceSoft analyzed Consul’s development processes and offered some project management improvements: a more precise definition of the roles and responsibilities in the project, a more accurate documentation process, an easier change tracking approach, and a more effective system of corrective measures. Consul promptly accepted and employed the improvements. The newly established processes were ISO 9001-certified to confirm their alignment with the industry’s work standards.
ScienceSoft covered all development activities in the project and management of development and quality while the Customer remained responsible for high-level architecture, strategic planning and overall project management.
Autonomous modules development
ScienceSoft also dedicated architects to help with the development of 20 autonomous modules called Event Sources that turn the data collected from different sources for the security audit into the convenient form of data presentation.
Before the start of cooperation with ScienceSoft, launching one Event Source module was a time-consuming process as the Customer’s developers had to examine the applications chosen for the security audit at various states of their work to gather the knowledge needed for the development process.
ScienceSoft offered the following changes to speed up the working process:
Parallel development, where 2 developers were working on the same module.
The following order of development stages became obligatory: Requirements Specification → Implementation & Integration → Testing → Stabilizing. The system of gate meetings allowed fixing the result of the previous stage and moving to a new one.
The system of checklists was developed to ensure control over the results of each stage, which helped increase the performance quality.
The introduced changes helped to reduce the development time for each Event Source module from 5-6 to 3 months.
Thanks to the quick establishment of outsourcing collaboration, developers’ expertise and introduced project management and development process improvements, Consul had product releases and autonomous modules for the product delivered on time. This became one of the key factors for a positive decision on the subsequent acquisition of Consul Risk Management, Inc. by IBM.
Technologies and Tools
For the core product
Project management: Microsoft Project Server.
Languages: C/C++, Visual Basic, Java, Install Shield, Perl, Bash, WinBatch, VBScript.
Employed OS: Windows, AIX 4/5, HP-UX, Oracle Solaris, AS390/400, Linux (SuSe, Red Hat).
Databases: Oracle Database 10g, DB2 Viper.
Others: Apache TomCat, Apache Lucene, SSH, SQL, ODBC.
For event source modules
Platforms and applications: Symantec, BlueCoat, Tru64, Novell NSure, Solaris, IBM DB2, IBM Tivoli for e-business, IBM Tivoli for Operating Systems, IBM Tivoli Directory Service, IBM Tivoli Federating Manager, IBM Tivoli Identity Manager, Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft Exchange Server, Sun System Identity Manager.