Micro Focus ALM Octane Review

The real power of this tool is how comprehensive it is, the breadth of what it covers

What is our primary use case?

Our primary use case is using it as a single application lifecycle management tool, meaning all the way from our original planning, requirements, doing backlog management, user stories, test lifecycle management, defects, in a single tool. We consolidated. In the past, we used more than one tool. Our ultimate goal is to have this as our global standard. Our primary use case was to move away from other tools and standardize on Octane.

How has it helped my organization?

Coming from an HPE Quality Center/HPE ALM background, in the company, I think Micro Focus has done a great job in redesigning the overall user experience. We've seen a big increase in the adoption of the tool itself. The amount of time we spend on training, in general, has definitely come down. People find it very intuitive.

The real value is that we're able to standardize, and project teams are more vested in, or interested in, actually doing their standard activities in the tool itself. The value is in the adoption, that people are willing to use it for the purpose for which it was put in.

We have gained some efficiencies. We had a challenge in standardizing our tools. Sometimes activities were tracked within the central depository, sometimes they were outside, on multiple tools. Standardizing on a single tool, and standardizing our process brings us value. It is definitely saving us some time because it's very simple from a user perspective and it's more efficient.

What is most valuable?

We did an extensive market scan and evaluation before settling on Octane, even though we've been an HPE customer and Micro Focus customer for many years. When we wanted to get into Agile planning tools, we looked at all the market-leading tools, but we did not find anything quite as comprehensive as ALM Octane. When I say comprehensive, it's not just a single tool for Agile planning, backlog management release, sprint planning, etc., but it also has a built-in, comprehensive quality management module. It also has pipelines where we can hook up with our DevOps ecosystem/toolchain.

The real power of this tool is how comprehensive it is, the breadth of what it covers.

What needs improvement?

To the credit of Micro Focus, we are very actively working with their product management team and the R&D team as well. When we looked at this tool, inevitably we draw comparisons to, or parallels with, the HP ALM or the legacy ALM tool.

From that perspective there are some features that we find are missing, probably for a valid reason: Because it's a next-generation tool, some of the legacy stuff has been removed, and it has a newly designed user-experience. But that being said, there is an opportunity to do a little more with the dashboarding. We still feel that HPE Quality Center/HPE ALM reporting is very powerful. We talked with R&D, and there are some things on their roadmap, but at the same time, their strategy is to connect Octane with visualization tools such as Power BI.

Our perspective of the drawbacks or the limitations comes from drawing comparisons with HPE ALM. Some of those limitations are probably by design and for a reason. That being said, the product management and R&D teams are working very closely with us and we are giving them a lot of enhancement requests.

For how long have I used the solution?

Less than one year.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We have not encountered any stability issues with it yet. We have an on-premise ALM Octane, it's not a SaaS version. We host our own hardware. We did the implementation by ourselves. So far, the application is fairly stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The usage is going up pretty fast. There will probably come a point where we need to scale. The new architecture for Octane is quite different than HPE ALM. It allows us to scale. We're not quite there yet.

We have over 3,000 users, about 85 concurrent. It's a globally active application. It goes around the clock. We have North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and Latin America.

How are customer service and technical support?

The tech support is pretty solid. I've never had any problems. We start with the tech support and, if it's very technical, it sometimes goes beyond them all the way up to the R&D team. 

Overall, the support experience has been excellent. The reason I say this is that they bring all the possible resources and people to the table, all the way up to R&D, which is the top team from a support perspective. Support is not even that team's primary role, but they still get involved to help us out. They've been outstanding. I'm very pleased.

We have a customer-success manager allocated to us who is constantly trying to understand where they can help us. With Octane, we've seen a great deal of engagement at all levels of the support team. They are going the extra mile to help us and support us.

I also really love how they have enhanced their online help, how comprehensive and user-friendly it is. They give standard examples. The help refreshes with every release, it's very dynamic. That has been a pleasant surprise.

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

We were using HPE Quality Center, which was sort of a predecessor. We are currently moving out of Quality Center and completely standardizing on Octane. We also briefly used CA Agile Central and JIRA, in small pockets. We decommissioned them, and Octane became our standard tool across the Enterprise.

We started with the goal of having one tool across the enterprise. Octane met most of our requirements. We did not want to have two different tools for Agile and Waterfall and then have to start integrating them and managing two applications and the training on them, etc. Our primary position was to standardize on one application and we decided Octane was going to be it. Then we slowly planned and moved everything out of Quality Center into Octane.

How was the initial setup?

I don't want to call it complex, but it was different. The initial setup felt a little complex just because it's a different architecture, and we were also doing it on-prem. If it's a SaaS, obviously, you don't even have to worry about setting it up.

One thing we have noticed, since we have done two upgrades, and we're getting ready for the third one, is that the upgrades have been so simple and easy. In the previous legacy platform, upgrading was a project for us. There was a lot of planning, a lot of people were involved, and there was a lot of downtime. 

For Octane, we get quarterly upgrades and we lag for a couple of weeks and then start upgrading our environment. That's been a huge difference. That way, we are not staying on an older version for many months or even years. We just upgrade as soon as the versions are available from Micro Focus.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We looked at six tools as part of our evaluation, when we were looking for an Agile ALM tool. We looked at CA Agile Central, VersionOne, JIRA, TFS, Agile Manager, and Octane.

We did have very extensive requirements and they scored very closely. JIRA was our number two, Agile Central was number three, and VersionOne was our number four. Agile Central scored more, the highest, but Micro Focus allowed us to share licensing between HPE Quality Center and Octane. That was the primary reason it was a no-brainer for us to get started with Octane. Apart from our hardware and implementation costs, there were zero costs to begin with.

Most of the other tools that we evaluated were very comparable. You could pick any of those tools on any day. But for our use cases, for our specific needs, and the costs and scoring, we zeroed in on Octane.

What other advice do I have?

A lot of people, when they pick up this tool, are focused on one specific aspect of it, like Agile planning. They're doing backlog management, release planning, sprint planning, etc. But I would suggest looking at the broader, end-to-end application lifecycle management tools, which includes hooking up into your Dev tools, integrating it into your quality lifecycle, and the pipeline module. That's especially true if your company is an Agile shop and you're doing a lot of automation. In that case, you need to look into Octane and really understand what it offers. I think a lot of people probably don't appreciate or don't understand, they're not aware. Keep that bigger picture, the end-to-end lifecycle, in mind and see if there's any other tool that fits like Octane.

I would rate it at eight out of ten, which is still a high score for me. It is still truly evolving. I work with Micro Focus and, looking at the product roadmap, there are a lot of good features coming.

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