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I'm evaluating various suites for application lifecycle management. The components I need are:

  • Requirements Management
  • Issue tracking (or work tracking; "fix this bug" and "add this feature" should be tracked)
  • Version control
  • Continuous integration (automated build, test and deploy)

The criteria I have are:

  • We must be able to host it ourselves; per customer policy, no cloud-based hosting.
  • The tools must integrate with each other. For instance,
    • Requirements should link to items in the issue tracker.
    • Developers must be able to link their code commits with issues.
  • Ease of administration is a plus.
  • It must support multiple languages and platforms.
  • We're doing some waterfall development, so it can't tie us into Agile or other modern methodologies exclusively. But we still want to be able to use modern methodologies, too.
  • Some document management capabilities would be a nice to have, especially if it can show the relationships between documents.
  • Any client software should run on Windows.
  • Any server software should also be Windows-based.

Since our customer is paying for it, and may be hosting it (that's not decided yet), we're limited to their approved list. That's three items:

  • The IBM/Rational tools
  • The Atlassian tools
  • Microsoft Team Foundation Server

(They don't care for open source solutions; they like to have someone they're paying money so they can blame them. Presumably, doing something like using git with Atlassian is acceptable.)

My initial analysis is like this: The IBM tools are expensive, difficult to administer and use, and widely disliked. TFS has a strike against since it tends to favor Microsoft-only development.

So, my ranking is to favor Atlassian over Microsoft, but it's close. Both of those are favored strongly over IBM/Rational.

What are some other thoughts?

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Unfortunately I can not speak for MS TFS nor IBM. But I have a strong experience with many Atlassian tools, as a user and as an administrator. With Jira, I have even written a few plugins (synchro tasks, custom gadgets, ui override etc.)

What I can tell: don't hesitate. It's worth the cost. It's great piece of software. It can be a bit hard to get the basics, because it is so much configurable and has a lot of elements everywhere but

  • the products are delivered with pretty decent default settings. you can customize them, but you don't have to.
  • the documentation is huge, and very often both accurate and useful.
  • this is enterprise-grade software. don't worry about scalability, upgrade, backups. don't worry about your server runtime. Windows is ok, Tomcat is ok, Oracle is ok. Many more are ok too. You could also choose a cloud based SAAS. don't worry about your clients, it is web based and cross browser.

The only grey point I can think now for their products is the pricing model. They used to be very affordable. Now they are at most at correct prices.

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