REVIEWER: Jeff Fedor, CTO of Covarity Inc.

BACKGROUND: Covarity helps financial institutions reduce credit risk and automate commercial credit administration through business process management (BPM) solutions. ClearCredit, Covarity's flagship solution, is a real-time, workflow- driven, loan monitoring, review and management (LRAM) solution that automates credit risk management and administration. Founded in December 2001, Covarity is based in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada.

PLATFORMS: IBM notebooks, desktops and servers, running Windows 2000 Advanced Server on servers and WindowsXP Professional on desktops and notebooks.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Covarity wanted to design and build quality Web services for the financial services market, and we needed development tools that seamlessly integrated modeling and coding in our .NET environment.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: With a relatively small, yet exceptionally effective development team, Covarity is using IBM Rational XDE Professional .NET Edition and an array of integrated tools from Rational Suite Enterprise to successfully develop and deploy Web services and other .NET applications. Offering an unparalleled level of support for Microsoft Visual Studio .NET, Rational XDE enables Covarity's development team to design and develop in a single environment ­ saving time and improving communication. Covarity's analysts, developers and testers also use market-leading tools from Rational Suite Enterprise for requirements management, software configuration management and functional testing to improve productivity and team collaboration in every phase of development. By combining Rational XDE with a repeatable development process based on the Rational Unified Process and Rational's award-winning tools, Covarity's development team was able to shorten the development life cycle by more than 25 percent and deliver effective, high-quality solutions to our customers in less time. In the future, we will use XDE's pattern library and templates to further increase code quality and automate repetitive tasks.

STRENGTHS: XDE delivered effective, high-quality solutions in less time by shortening the development life cycle by more than 25 percent. It also increased productivity through use of tightly integrated tools, including a seamlessly integrated design and coding environment for .NET development. Implemented as a repeatable process, the product provides better code and improved ability to manage risk. We gained visibility into the development process, from visual modeling to traceability of requirements and architectural impact, enabling fact-based decision making. Additionally, XDE delivered an exceptionally high-quality Web service by following an iterative development process and conducting extensive automated functional tests. This allows us to rapidly adopt new tools and a new process with on-site and Web- based training. We now have improved team communication with comprehensive software configuration management.

WEAKNESSES: Although Rational is working on improving this with each point release, some of the products are not as well integrated as they could be with XDE. For example, with Rose and RequisitePro, architects could trace to design components to instantly understand the impact of change or feature requests. Currently with XDE, which has replaced Rose at Covarity, that process is largely manual and requires some intimate knowledge of the design. Additionally, the data modeling tools are currently not best of breed.

SELECTION CRITERIA: XDE was selected primarily for the strength of the modeling environment in combination with the round-trip engineering. The seamless integration with VisualStudio.NET, resulting in an immediate productivity boost, made the choice of XDE a no- brainer.

DELIVERABLES: Covarity's process is based on the Rational Unified Process; all modeling artifacts such as use case, sequence and class diagrams are produced in XDE. Additionally XDE's forward and round-trip engineering feature is used to produce code.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Support has been excellent both pre- and post-implementation. The best part of working with Rational is their responsiveness and true partnering attitude.

DOCUMENTATION: The documentation is extensive, very easy to use and integrated within the Microsoft VisualStudio.NET environment. Additionally, the Rational Developer Network provides access to both a knowledge base as well as a user community.

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