Micro Focus ALM Octane Review

Provides end-to-end traceability and good milestone visibility

What is our primary use case?

We are using it for agile projects. Our company projects run using Agile models, so we use all the important modules of Octane, like Backlog, Epics, Feature, and user story in Tasks. We are also using the Product Backlog and Team Backlog modules as well as the Quality modules under quality, test and defects. This is primarily for agile and are all the modules and dashboards that we use. 

Another use is for waterfall projects. To some extent, we are using the requirement documents and Quality modules for our waterfall projects.

We just started analyzing and using a module called Pipelines Analysis. We are trying to integrate our Jenkins with Octane to start using it. This is in the initial stages.

After taking input from the Micro Focus sales team, deployment team, installation team, and professional services team, we are using Octane to its full capabilities, except for with the Pipeline Analysis and dashboards. We still need to focus more on dashboards, because Octane does support plenty of dashboards. We want to start using those in a big way along with the Pipeline Analysis. We are already using all the other modules in a big way. We started configuring dashboards for agile, waterfall, and various built-in widgets, but this is also in the initial stages. We need to explore more the dashboards and Pipeline Analysis, which is where we are seeking support from Micro Focus.

It is purely for project milestone progress, project environment, project development, project execution, software development, and software execution. Then, we are using it mainly for holding and maintaining the repository of Product Backlog, Epics, Features, testing test cases, system integration testing, and user acceptance testing. That is the scope that we have defined.

What is most valuable?

Its end-to-end traceability is one of the big advantages. Most of our agile projects work in a closed team structure. We are seeing what is the flow, where we are, and what is the project milestone. So, it provides end-to-end traceability and good visibility of project milestones. 

In real-time statistics, anyone can go and configure it easily. The user interface is very user-friendly. 

We built a status dashboard within Octane by adding some additional user defined fields (UDFs) that use real-time status about how much a project progressed, how much testing is done, and how much testing is left. Then, project management can help with visibility of the progress for every project within Octane.

What needs improvement?

The cluster architecture that we implemented was server to server communication: Octane application to Elasticsearch and Elasticsearch to another Elasticsearch service. Recently, we found this is a security gap. The Octane application is interacting with Elasticsearch server, but that was missing from the requirements and prerequisites in the setup. The Micro Focus team has not given advice on how to implement authentication-based communication between Octane to Elasticsearch, and we found it as a gap later, then our security team asked us to fix that gap. So, there was a lot of time spent on rework. They should have helped us with a clear requirement. This requirement has slipped from the initial requirements and drafting during the installation, causing additional rework for us after installation. This means my admin team and I have to work to fix that gap. I already gave this feedback to my customer success manager, "Security related prerequisites and requirements should be thoroughly explained to the client." Hopefully, they can apply this and avoid future rework.

For the requirement document, the module should provide multiple templates to be prepared, or customized quickly, and be reusable.

For the Pipeline Analysis, job or application grouping has to support Jenkins job grouping, because we have thousands of jobs running. Unfortunately, we are unable to group those by using multiple filters. They could help us with these features in upcoming releases in the next six months. That would be great because many testing and production jobs for Jenkins users need filters and grouping.

For how long have I used the solution?

We started using the tool in the last four to five months. Now, all our users are using Micro Focus ALM Octane.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

For the last four months since we have been using it in a big way, we have not seen any downtime or surprises from the stability from an availability point of view. 

We have dedicated administrators who handle support for Octane and other tools.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It is scalable. We do need to explore it more to determine its support for a scalable framework. 

How are customer service and technical support?

We are in touch with them. Their support is very good. We are constantly communicating with our customer success manager, who is helping us with a lot of queries. He is trying to resolve them. He brings in his R&D team to sort out our issues, which is good. We are getting good support, but there are a few product limitations that we have highlighted. We have asked them with help fixing those limitations by providing alternative solutions.

The requirement document has to be more flexible for the features, user interface, modules, and capabilities. It needs more advanced features, like copy paste of the various templates. It should have an inbuilt capability to build and design any template with reusable capability.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We moved from ALM Quality Center to Octane. We mainly switched because we have more than 50 percent of our projects running on an agile model, and ALM Quality Center doesn't support agile. 

We wanted to have interim projects for traceability and milestone visibility. We also wanted to have a tool where my team could write scenarios for user stories and those user stories would be available in a single tool. So, Octane is a better tool for the future.

Octane supports DevOps integration tools.

How was the initial setup?

The actual Octane installation is straightforward, but it was a complex process for us because it is a cluster architecture. We have two Octane applications, three Elasticsearch, two databases, and seven to nine servers. While complex, we are not experiencing any issues so far. 

It was a nine week activity where we did the initial setup. The process was complex. We found issues while doing the integration between Jenkins and the DevOps and automation tools. 

When we started the integration with the other tools, like Jenkins, Selenium, or UFT, and tried to automate things or integrate with Jira, then it took more time because of the compatibility issues. It may not be working as expected and my automation framework may be different as well as Octane may not support my automation framework. My automation framework may be using Selenium, so I have to change my automation framework to ensure that it works with Octane. These things have to be in front of the client in advance to work out and give advanced information about compatibility issues of the automation framework and compatibility with the Octane, so an evaluation can be done during the due diligence on the first week of the kickoff meetings. Then, we can save time during the implementation.

What about the implementation team?

The Micro Focus team should be providing more end-to-end view during the installation and user acceptance testing. They should provide more knowledge on the usage of the tools and various important capabilities, e.g., how do we use that? That is the missing part of the Professional Services. We had to go over it again by raising many queries and tickets. Therefore, the knowledge transfer of capabilities has to be given more focus during the installation.

Integration with other tools, compatibility, and frameworks has to be thoroughly checked by the Micro Focus team in conjunction with the client team for faster integration and to avoid surprises during the implementation.

For deployment, I was involved as a manager and there were two more guys from my admin team, who looked after the tools. There was one person from Micro Focus Professional Services along with a Micro Focus project manager. There were two team members actively involved throughout the project to open firewalls, do the setup, install, and troubleshoot. There was also one more guy for automation purposes when we were working on the automation integration for Selenium and UFT, and he worked for two to three weeks of time. Overall, three people worked for eight weeks.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We are not using this solution for operations. We are using the Octane tool for purely project solution delivery. For operations, we use Remedy tools, not Octane.

Jira has its own limitations, so we thought Octane would be better.

What other advice do I have?

Our testers and manager do conduct risk-based testing implicitly, but we don't call it that. We apply it unconsciously and do it on the fly. We upload 100 or 200 test cases, depending on the timeline, and prioritize them. At the end of the day, we execute 70 or 80 of them and roll out the project. Eventually, all the functionalities are covered and no defects slip to production.

Currently, Octane's support for single sign-on is implemented separately, so we are not using it. Maybe in future we will use it.

We are ready to explore a couple of the solution's capabilities. I would have given a nine out of 10 had I explored those capabilities and been satisfied with them, but I am unable to do that. However, I can give the overall tool after the installation with support an eight out of 10.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?


Which version of this solution are you currently using?

Octane Pro 15.0.2
**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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