Woman choosing between IBM ClearCase, SVN, and Helix Core logos.
February 26, 2019

Is ClearCase or SVN the Best VCS for Your Team?


What’s the Correlation Between Achieving DevOps and the Version Control System You Choose?

At the end of 2018, Perforce partnered with DevOps.com to understand how version control systems enable large-scale DevOps. DevOps.com published a survey, and more than 450 people responded. The respondents were a great cross-section of practitioners in the DevOps community.

A few of the questions we asked were aimed at understanding the main benefits people want from their VCS.

Based on the survey results, we learned that the right VCS can solve the problems teams face when they try to achieve DevOps.

The right version control system is a critical foundation for achieving DevOps at scale. At best, the wrong version control makes it more challenging to achieve DevOps. At worst, the wrong VCS makes it downright impossible to achieve DevOps.

So how do you know what version control system is right for your team?

Collaboration With SVN and ClearCase?

When SVN and ClearCase first came on the scene, hardware and software development projects rarely employed thousands of developers. Today, it’s common. With that in mind, it’s easy to understand why, when we asked DevOps professionals what they believe the main benefits of version control are, one of the most-cited answers was improved collaboration.

The outcome of smooth, efficient collaboration is felt throughout the DevOps lifecycle. But the opposite is also true. When collaboration efforts are stilted, it slows almost every part of development.

Where Is My Dashboard?

If you’re using SVN or ClearCase, you already know there’s no dashboard. Dashboards with activity streams and web-based code management have become incredibly important to teams and their managers. 45% of respondents said managing projects, repos, and permissions was one of the top DevOps challenges.

Usually, dashboards come hand-in-hand with web-based code reviews. This is one of the most important ways teams collaborate today — especially for teams using Agile and DevOps methodologies.

Code Review on the Web

Code review workflows that happen asynchronously are also an important driver of quality and developer productivity. Today, most code reviews happen after a successful build. This helps ensure they don’t waste their colleagues’ time by asking them to review defective code.

So why are they waiting? 27% of respondents said they encounter most delays due to testing. 30% said they need better integration with the DevOps toolchain, and 28% said automation was the top software development priority for their team or company.

The right version control system combines automation, dashboards, integration, and high performance with built-in web-based code review. Reviewers belong to groups, and they are instantly notified when it’s time to weigh in on the new code a colleague has submitted. This alleviates the stress of waiting. Even so, not all VCS have built-in code review apps.

For example, SVN has no built-in code review capability. You need to license a third-party product to implement code reviews.

Helix Core (the version control from Perforce) includes a code review and collaboration solution. Helix Swarm is a flexible code review tool. It integrates easily with CI workflows. And it supports thousands of users and code reviews with innumerable projects.

Collaborating With Teams That Use Git

Git is the standard among software developers. However, SVN and ClearCase don’t have native Git management capabilities. So if you’re working with teams that use Git, that’s a problem.

With Helix Core, partnering with teams that use Git isn’t a problem. Helix4Git is an add-on option with Helix Core. It lets you store Git repos in the high-performance Helix Core server. With Helix4Git, teams can scale Git for accelerated collaboration and up to 80% faster builds.

Development teams access Helix4Git just like any other Git Server, so there’s no learning curve. Its intelligent cache speeds up access for remote site developers to their Git repos.

Helix4Git also lets you manage large binary files alongside Git source code. This dramatically accelerates large file transfers and improves pipeline performance.

Improving Continuous Integration and Faster Commits

Another thing people need from their version control system? Speed. Of the people we surveyed, 63% identified “Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery Performance Issues” as a top challenge they have with their version control system.

Version control has a big impact on the performance and scalability you can achieve. For example, ClearCase uses a proprietary file system that slows down common operations. The larger the number of assets, the slower the system. Similarly, SVN is a single-server system, which limits performance and scalability.

By contrast, Helix Core has proven installations of 10,000+ users and petabytes of data. Helix Core effortlessly supports thousands of users and millions of daily transactions. It accelerates Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery with lightning-fast commits and concurrent builds.

Improved Support for Global Teams

Today, companies staff projects with talent where they find it — so an architecture that supports multiple, global facilities is absolutely essential. In the study, the third most desired improvement in version control is support for distributed teams. Of the people surveyed, 59% listed this as a desired improvement. Considering that 64% of the people surveyed work in multinational locations (and 7% work remotely), the need for improved support isn’t surprising.

Like many of the challenges listed, support for global teams is something that can be fixed with the right version control system.

With IBM Rational ClearCase, support for global teams only happens if you purchase and integrate a separate product — ClearCase MultiSite. For many companies, this requires managing copies of large assets at each geographically diverse location. Years ago, support for global teams was a strong point for ClearCase. Now, that support has fallen behind — a surprising trend, since there are more companies with global teams now than there were in ClearCase’s heyday.

With SVN, there is no enterprise-class replication technology to support a global workforce. You are limited by the capabilities of your WAN. The lack of server replication makes it difficult to collaborate on a global scale.

By contrast, Helix Core offers an unparalleled set of technologies to support global teams. This includes an advanced replication technology, called Perforce Federated Architecture. With Federated Architecture, teams get the performance they need to collaborate on a global scale. Global teams can access and manage files at LAN speed.

Challenges of DevOps

Many of the biggest challenges people face with accomplishing DevOps correlate directly with what their VCS is capable of. Teams can make dramatic improvements in their efficiency by improving what they get from their VCS.

When you realize how many parts of your pipeline can be improved, it’s not surprising that almost half the people surveyed said they planned to replace their version control system. Is your VCS improving or hindering your efforts to achieve DevOps?

Learn how Helix Core compares to SVN and ClearCase >>