IBM Rational ClearCase Review

Great software version control tool, will it fly again?


What is most valuable?

Rational ClearCase is a tool for software configuration management (SCM). Once it hit the market in early 1990s, it was a revolutionary tool. One of the most remarkable features were dynamic views, which enabled viewing different versions of a product without downloading the files to the developer's computer.

Since then, ClearCase powers software development in many large- and medium-size enterprises. However, since IBM purchased Rational in 2003, development of new features slowed down, and the new generation of developers switched to new tools, like Git.

Recently, IBM entered into a partnership with HCL, which hopefully will bring about development of new ClearCase features. Let's wait and see...

How has it helped my organization?

Before ClearCase, there was essentially no configuration management, and a developer often did not know which version of the product was most recent, what was delivered to what client and on what version were his colleagues working.

Imagine a group of programmers that write some software, delivers it to a customer and then continues to develop new features. All of the sudden the customer reports a bug. What do you do? How do you find the version delivered to him? Your software is already changed but the development of the new release is not yet completed.

OK, responsible team leaders used to do some manual management, like keeping each version of the software in a separate folder. But it was very inconvenient.

For example, if I fixed a bug in an old version, there was no easy way to apply that solution to the new development (which quite probably, it had inherited that bug).

Therefore when we started using ClearCase, it was like a miracle. It saved all versions of your software, it let you tag releases, it gave tools for parallel development and much more.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have used it for 19 years.

What was my experience with deployment of the solution?

We have not encountered any special deployment issues.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We have not encountered any stability issues.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We have not encountered any scalability issues.

How is customer service and technical support?

Customer Service:

Customer service is mediocre.

Technical Support:

Technical support is mediocre.

Which solutions did we use previously?

There was no previous solution.

How was the initial setup?

The setup is complex.

What about the implementation team?

An in-house team implemented it.

What was our ROI?

In retrospect, ROI was great.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

20 years ago, it was the only real game in town.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
2 Comments
Associate General Manager at a tech services company with 10,001+ employeesConsultant

I strongly need to disagree that ClearCase is obsolete. ClearCase has been releasing features and product fixes at a very steady rate (4 times a year) for the last 10+ years. ClearCase is the only real scalable , enterprise , and secure CM solution in the market today. It offers the most granular level of access control with its own embedded ACL environment, its offers several robust and secure methods for remote teams to collaborate across boundaries and geographies, and it is the best CM tool choice today if you are doing modern chip design due to its state of the art integration with Cadence Design Systems Virtuosso IDE. You can see the latest feature and fixes here that were released in December 2016 - http://www-01.ibm.com/support/docview.wss?uid=swg24042975. The next fixpack release will be in March 2017. If you want more information please feel free to connect with me.

25 January 17
ConsultantUser

I'm still waiting for a dynamic SCM solution to migrate from ClearCase.
In my option, ClearCase is still the best version control system for large distributed projects.
ClearCase Dynamic Views can be used in large projects without a necessity of a pesky continuous pull - push actions :( -- GIT is terrible to use!
Our company is working successfully with ClearCase since 1995.

21 February 17
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