New Chapter for Configuration Management Tool

With all the mergers and acquisitions in the computer industry today, it's not a surprise when a 15-year-old product, such as the Polytron Version Control System (PVCS), goes through three owners. PVCS, a software configuration management (SCM) tool, was originally created by Polytron, which was acquired by Intersolv, which was acquired last year by Merant, which is the new name of Micro Focus Corp. (www.merant.com), a company that primarily focused on mainframe COBOL and Y2K solving issues.

Since Intersolv and Merant were of equal size, the union was treated more like a merger than an acquisition, with much of Intersolv’s staff taking high-level positions in Merant. A prime example is Gary Greenfield, once president and CEO of Intersolv, now he holds the same position with Merant.

Despite ownership changes and continuing competition from products such as Microsoft Corp.'s Visual SourceSafe, PVCS is still going strong with an estimated 500,000 users, most of whom use Windows NT, according to Joseph Gentry, PVCS group product manager at Merant. Now, Merant is getting ready to release PVCS Version Manager 6.5, the first new version of the file versioning tool since the union with Intersolv last September. File versioning allows developers to keep track of what pieces are in each version of the software.

Since software makers and application developers use this type of product, there is a wide market for it, according to Dick Heimen, analyst with International Data Corp. (IDC, www.idc.com).

The updated version sports a new GUI, tighter integration with Merant's PVCS Tracker change request tracking product, an updated visual interface for managing code branching and merging and a new HTML reporting feature.

Version Manager 6.5 has also been enhanced with n-Way merge and visual differencing capabilities that allow teams to maintain multiple projects and increase component reuse.

PVCS Version Manager is one piece in a larger SCM suite called PVCS Professional. In conjunction with the release of Version Manager 6.5, Merant is updating the suite, which also includes Tracker and Configuration Builder for automated software builds.

"Customers may start out just using the version control piece of the product," Gentry says. "But as people start to utilize that, they realize there's more to SCM than just versioning files."

As an additional plus of the PVCS suite, developers can access PVCS through a Web browser. Gentry points out that this feature will be useful for the growing number of development teams whose members are geographically disbursed.