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Request for proposal (RFP) questions

Authors: Dan Toczala
Build basis: 4.x and later

Customers often ask questions in a request for proposal (RFP) or in some other fact-finding document. This page has a list of common RFP questions and the answers to those questions. The page is divided into the major sections that RFPs often contain.

General / Technical

Question: What is the 3-year roadmap for your ALM solution?

Question: What software enhancements are currently planned for the next released version of your product and when they will be available?

Question: Who are your industry and technology partners?

  • We have a large ecosystem of business partners. On the page referenced below are listed partners with Ready for IBM Rational validated integrations to Jazz-based products. Visit our Integrations page to learn more about integrations between Rational products and Rational products, BP products, and third-party products.

Architecture and performance

Question: How is your solution is architected?

Question: How is your solution is designed to meet the best level of performance through lowering response times?

  • The Jazz solution is based on the concept of "linked data." By having data accessible through REST-based mechanisms, the clients that access that data are able to use a standard HTTP protocol to address the various software development artifacts. This ability to directly address and manipulate these artifacts means that very little "control" information is passed along the network. The only data that is transmitted is the data that is essential to typical operations, thus optimizing network usage and solution performance. Calculations are done where they are needed and are able to be done most efficiently, either at the application server, or within the client or browser.

Question: Which mechanisms or approaches can help to reach adequate performance level on a WAN architecture?

  • Because this is a REST-based architecture, static content (such as files or versions stored in the SCM system) can be "cached" for performance improvements using standard network acceleration technologies. While performance on a WAN does depend on the latency and throughput available on the WAN, use of content caching proxy servers or other network caching technologies can help improve end user performance.

Question: Does your solution use open source?

  • The Jazz solutions will integrate with many different open source solutions, and our products do utilize some open source code. This is highlighted in our certificates of originality (COO).

Question: What is the software life cycle and revision history of this proposed solution?

  • The Jazz products are developed out on Jazz.net. We currently use a continuous delivery process for delivering our products, and you can learn more about this process by reading about how we do continuous delivery planning.

Question: How secure is this product? What is the authentication mechanism?

  • The Jazz solutions will typically be used in conjunction with the LDAP solution being used by the organization. User authentication is provided using OAuth. For more information, see the security page.

Question: Are there limits on the scalability of the Jazz solution?

  • Everything has limits. As Jazz deployments need to scale to have additional capacity, additional instances of RTC (CCM) and RQM (QM) can be deployed under the same Jazz Team Server (JTS). This is not yet possible with the RRC (RM) component. In order to get an idea of how many users and projects can be hosted by a single Jazz instance, we suggest reviewing the performance datasheets and sizing guidance for your particular version of the solution.
  • We also strongly suggest that you put some type of performance and service monitoring in place with your Jazz deployment.

Question: Are client-side components needed, such as Java applets, Java applications, Flash, plug-ins or ActiveX controls? Indicate versions (if applicable) and associated security controls.

Question: Are there documented procedures for performing stress or load testing on your service or application? If so, what were the results? How often are these tests performed and are the results retained?

Administration

Question: What operating systems does this work with?

  • Check out the Systems Requirements section of the Installing, upgrading and migrating page on the deployment wiki, for the systems requirements appropriate for your specific release.

Question: What databases are supported?

  • Check out the Systems Requirements section of the Installing, upgrading and migrating page on the deployment wiki, for the systems requirements appropriate for your specific release.

Question: What web browsers are supported?

  • Check out the Systems Requirements section of the Installing, upgrading and migrating page on the deployment wiki, for the systems requirements appropriate for your specific release.

Question: Is there any additional hardware that should be purchased for optimal performance?

  • For optimal performance in scenarios when Jazz SCM is being used, it is suggested that a caching proxy be utilized to improve end user response time, and to lighten the load on the Jazz infrastructure. For more information on this, read Using content caching proxies for Jazz Source Control.

Question: What are the minimum processor speed and memory requirements for the CLM applications?

Question: What network connectivity speeds are needed for the ideal operation of these products?

  • For ideal operation of the Jazz solutions, we would like to see the highest speeds, lowest latencies, and highest bandwidth possible. The faster you go, the better the end user experience will be. The network speed between the application servers and the database server should be at least 100 Mbit/s, with 1 Gbit/s preferred. In most cases a standard broadband connection to the client is sufficient.

Question: In terms of historical data archiving, how long does your solution keep historical data for trending and analysis?

  • Data is never destroyed. Data is held in a data warehouse, which is used to provide historical data for reporting purposes.

Integration

Question: Provide a list of all of the tools that your products integrate with.

  • Any list of ALL of the tools that the Jazz products integrate with would be outdated soon after it was published. The current list of supported integrations is maintained out on Jazz.net.
  • The Jazz based tools are all integrated with each other, providing a seamless user experience as the user navigates between the various capabilities provided by the tools. Jazz products utilize OSLC to provide integrations with a large number of tools from both IBM, as well a other vendors. You can learn about OSLC by going through things like the OSLC Workshop. There is also a TRS workshop provided out on the Eclipse website, which covers the creation of a TRS (Tracked Resource Set) provider.

Extensibility

Question: How is the product designed for future growth and changes in technology?

  • Jazz is an initiative to transform software and systems delivery by making it more collaborative, productive and transparent, through integration of information and tasks across the phases of the lifecycle. The Jazz initiative consists of three elements: Platform, Products and Community. The Jazz platform is designed to support any industry participant who wants to improve the software and systems lifecycle and break down walls between tools. The platform is built on architectural principles that represent a key departure from approaches taken in the past. Unlike the way monolithic, closed products of the past are integrated, Jazz has an innovative approach to integration based on open, flexible services and Internet architecture. Jazz products are designed to put the team first. Rational is building a set of new Jazz products right here at Jazz.net. Other Rational products join the Jazz family through client or server integrations using the Jazz Architecture. And as part of IBM's "Ready for IBM Rational Software" partner program, IBM business partners offer extensions and complementary products that extend the value of the Jazz platform.
For more information on our visionary architecture please reference:

Customization

Question: Describe some of the typical customization that can be done.

  • Most Jazz implementations will have some level of customization. Many implement their own work item types and process flows. Adding work item types and customization of work items is relatively simple, and can be done using the guidance provided in the Jazz deployment guide. For more complex customizations of the process and automation, some will extend the solution using Eclipse based extensions using the techniques found in the extensions workshop.
  • There are also some good blogs and other information both on this wiki, and out on PlanetJazz.

Release Process

Question: Please describe the release process for upgrades, bug fixes and minor releases. Include standard deployment methods.

Question: Does the entire system need to be upgraded for a bug fix release?

Question: At what point is support dropped for previous versions?

  • Historically, we've provided standard (defect and non-defect) product technical support for a minimum of three years from the date the product release was made generally available by IBM, with the option to get support extensions for at least an additional two years following a product's end of support (EOS) date for an extra charge set by IBM (so-called Standard '3+2' support). Over the past few years we have aggressively moved many of the 2000+ products in our software portfolio to Enhanced '5+3' Support – a minimum of five full years of standard support from the date the product release was made generally available by IBM, with the option to get support extensions for at least an additional three years following a product's EOS date for an extra charge set by IBM. See the IBM Software Support Lifecycle Policy: http://www-01.ibm.com/software/support/lifecycle/lc-policy.html

Question: What is your approach to previous version compatibility?

  • We know that you want to exact the maximum value from your investment in the software you use to run your business. One of our new initiatives will be to support, on a going-forward basis for select IBM branded products that have not previously announced an EOS date, not only the 'current' version of the product, but also up to two previous versions, in an effort to limit disruptive technology transitions. In this context, a 'version' is a major functional enhancement level. While not every IBM software product will be subject to this new initiative, our initial focus is to support key products from all of our software brands, and expand the number of products over time. This initiative may help customers reduce the number of products for which they need to acquire extended support. The aim is to give you time to 'catch up' to the current version while being covered by support under an attractive pricing structure. See the IBM Software Support Lifecycle Policy: http://www-01.ibm.com/software/support/lifecycle/lc-policy.html

Question: How much time do we have to react when notification is received that a version is losing support?

  • We'll continue to give customers at least 12 months notice prior to an IBM branded product release's EOS date and the availability of support extensions for an extra charge set by IBM. To make planning easier, we endeavor to coordinate most EOS dates to occur on 30 April or 30 September. We also plan to make it easier to understand the support implications of changes to the portfolio. For example, when we combine products into a single offering, we'll work to explain how that affects the support you're counting on for the products you have installed. We want you to have time to put plans in place to upgrade to new versions or decide to purchase a support extension. See:
  • IBM Software Support Lifecycle Policy http://www-01.ibm.com/software/support/lifecycle/lc-policy.html
  • IBM Software End of Support http://www-01.ibm.com/software/passportadvantage/endofsupport_ov.html

Question: What is the frequency of product releases? Please comment on major, minor, and bug fix releases.

  • We follow a Continuous Delivery process to deliver value to end-users in short cycles.
Please refer to:

Security

Question: Describe the location, encryption (as applicable) and contents of any configuration files. Who has access to these files and are access attempts logged? If encryption is used, describe the key storage mechanism and key management process.

  • Application configuration files are located in the /server/conf folder and its sub folders. Files are not encrypted. See CLM Backup article for more information. The files must be accessible (read/write) to the user running the application server and backup. Protection and logging should be done using the Operating system mechanisms. The files are usually modified by the administration UI of the application and during setup. Only users with JazzAdmin repository role can modify the properties through the Admin UI.

Question: Describe the controls that are in place to ensure that data is only accessible on a need-to-know basis and that a client/end-user can access only the data to which they are authorized.

  • The Jazz solution provides the following controls: (1) Login. Only users with a user ID and password are able to access data., (2) Configuration of the Read Access permissions. It is possible to limit read access to a project area to a list of users e.g. members of that project area., (3) Visibility constraints e.g. on SCM objects such as streams and components that can be limited to a small number of users that are more fine grained than on the project level.
  • In general, the Jazz solution provides for increased productivity and is designed to support collaboration. It provides read access to all data that is not restricted using read access restriction or visibility.

Question: What session management methodology is used (e.g. non-persistent cookies, session tokens stored in the database, by URL)?

  • The Jazz solution uses cookies to store the information of the logged-in user in the Web UI.

Question: How the session token is constructed (i.e. data elements)? What steps have been taken to ensure that it is effectively non-forgeable? If encryption is used, provide algorithm and key length.

  • A cookie is stored locally. The interfaces are REST based and therefore don't need session management, only the login needs to be tracked. No data is available for this as this is internal information. Different UI elements might store some data locally temporarily in the browser. This is information not exposed by the Jazz solution and it is really meant to be transparent to users.

Question: Describe controls on repeated attempts to log on including account lockout (including duration of lockout) and logging/alerting?

Question: What audit trails does the system generate? Describe what events and data is logged for application and system access and updates. Describe storage location, length of storage, and security controls for audit trail logs in online and offline storage. Does the application allow for verbose logging which may result in sensitive data in the log files? What mechanism is used for enabling logging? Describe any separation of audit functionality from debug/trace logging if it exists.

Question: Describe controls in place to protect production systems and data from unauthorized access within the corporate network.

Question: Does your product support role-based security, or a combination of role and data based security?

  • The CLM applications define access levels, known as security roles, which determine whether a user is allowed to read, write, or administer various resources. When using Java EE container authentication (or Kerberos), the web container is responsible for mapping a user's group memberships to security roles. When using Jazz Security Architecture SSO, the applications themselves are responsible for performing the group-to-role mapping. During the processing of a request that has been authenticated with some user identity and security roles, the Jazz application servicing the request enforces any security role requirements.

Jazz applications use the following pre-defined security roles:

Role Name Description
JazzAdmins Administrators of a Jazz application with full read-write access
JazzProjectAdmins Administrators of a Jazz application with specific permissions to control the creation and maintenance of Jazz Projects
JazzUsers Users with regular read-write access to the Jazz application
JazzGuests Users with read-only access to the Jazz application.
JazzDebug Users who are allowed to access the Jazz Repository Debug service.

The roles are declared in application deployment descriptors for applications that can be configured for container authentication (described later). These roles map to group membership within the authentication realm (i.e. LDAP) configured in the container. For additional information please reference: https://jazz.net/library/article/75

Operation

Question: Are there any specific browser version or browser setting requirements? Does the system utilize JavaScript if a customer’s browser supports it? Does the system degrade gracefully to pure HTML if the customer’s browser doesn’t support it (or the customer has disabled it)?

Question: Is buffer overrun checking performed? Are other “sanity checks” performed on input data?

Question: How is the initial logon to the database or other backend system performed? If an application-level authentication is used, describe where and how the UserID and password is stored for the application or what other authentication method is used.

Question:

Related topics: None

External links:

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Additional contributors: RosaNaranjo

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