Micro Focus ALM Octane Review

It's a lightweight and powerful tool for implementing Agile methodology

What is most valuable?

It's the most powerful tool to do Agile framework. It's very lightweight, and the tool itself is built based on Agile methodology.

My favorite feature is the user interface, how easy it is. And also how the modules are segregated in Octane. It is based on the Agile framework so it looks exactly like how you would develop your applications using the Agile framework. You get into user stories, you get into Epics. Everything has the same names so you don't need to interpret what is what. You can get into it right away.

I say to our customers, "You can just get into the tool, and just follow the process." That means you are doing the job, like you got into the Agile methodology.

I like the flexibility that I have working with them, starting from licensing it. The SaaS aspect, the hosting that they are doing, the way they respond to our requests, the way that I can escalate. And the way that we are working with R&D right now.

How has it helped my organization?

For one, it's the whole Agile framework itself. You're cutting the time, the wait stage, and all that. We wanted a tool. You could do Agile methodology on a whiteboard, by using Post-Its. But practically that is not going to work out because the teams are in different locations. For example, our development team is in India.

So we have to have an enterprise level tool which can support everybody. So now we can create the same "whiteboard" and the "Post-Its" in Octane, and everybody can see it around the world. That means the people who support our service, the development teams in India. And the functional team sitting here in the U.S. It's the "collaborator thing." That happens using the enterprise tool.

What needs improvement?

I can't say, as I'm not completely technical. But we do have someone working with R&D directly.

We provide them feedback after they asked us for it. We are meeting once a month with the R&D team. And then we'll send them the list of things that our customers are asking for, or which are missing from ALM. And they will tell us, "Oh, this is coming in this release. That is coming in that release." And if there is something that is missing they will say, "Yep, we will include that in our next release." They take feedback from us and then do it.

I have some problems with the way they license things because HPE is a hardware-come-software organization. I think that will be solved by moving to Micro Focus. Yesterday I had a meeting with the executives and I told them the same thing, that I hope this is one area that I want them to be improving. This whole licensing issue, it's so complicated. They agree. They wanted to set it as one fits all. But hardware is different than software.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Right now it is pretty stable. The thing is, it is continuously improving every two or three weeks, they are releasing new features in Octane. We are one of the customers who started way before it was as a prime-time tool. So we are educating our customers telling them there are things that are coming. Also, we work directly with R&D to know what is new, what is coming.

For example, last month, we didn't have the testing module at all. In ALM we have the testing module. And our customers are so into ALM.net, and when they didn't have the testing module they freaked out. But we said, "Don't worry. It's coming." And it came within a couple of weeks. They got hooked up and they started working.

The product is stable. Whatever they release, it is stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We haven't tried scaling yet because we just started and we have about 20 projects in there which are not such big projects. But we haven't had any issues so far. We have confidence, after using ALM for so long, in scalability, the way HPE - before Micro Focus - are doing it. We hope that, they will do the same thing.

How is customer service and technical support?

We are directly dealing with R&D in most scenarios. For example, one of the things is we are struggling with is to get some of the reports we want. It's not that flexible to get the reports because we are SaaS and we don't have direct access to the database to see how many users are live at a point.

But tech support are good. They are responsive.

How was the initial setup?

It's straightforward. Because it's a SaaS application, we got access to the server. And then the URL was sent and we started using it. So it's that straightforward.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

When Octane came to us it was a beta program. They said, "This not prime time yet." We evaluated a couple of other tools, like JIRA, which is one of the other tools that we have in our organization right now.

But the integration between JIRA and ALM wasn't there. JIRA is not our standard, actually. But we do use JIRA because developers really like it. What we wanted to have is the integration between tools. Right now we are using AGM in our organization, which is integrated with ALM.

So that's where we thought that Octane - even though it was a beta version at that time - we would take it and do a PoC and see if it works. And we thought it's really good because there is a lot of investment being done on the tool from Micro Focus.

We like how simple it is. It's easy for people to understand. Self-taught and they can work on it. A lot of our internal customers are using the tool even without formal training. They are self-teaching by going through all the resources. So we evaluated it and finally decided that it would be good to use Octane. We made that our strategy.

Comparing Octane and JIRA, I don't really know what the advantages are from JIRA. For Octane, it is primarily the integration with all the other tools that we have right now. And, as I was saying, it's simple to use.

And the changes - the way they are building the tool - we are part of the team which is building the tool. So we can always provide our input and make changes. We don't have that with JIRA. JIRA is there, but it's not used as a lifecycle management tool at all. We wanted to have a lifecycle management tool. So that's the reason.

What other advice do I have?

When selecting a vendor, it depends on the product and how much they are investing in building that product. We don't get tools because we just like the tool. There has to be the need for the tool itself. It's important that they are able to support us and that they have good customer feedback or references.

If you are looking for any Agile tool, I would definitely recommend ALM Octane. Not only because it's a Micro Focus tool, but the way that they're investing in the tool. And the ease of use. Our customers were scared before, but now they are loving it. It's a really simple tool. And it's more powerful.

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