February 20, 2020

Perforce vs. ClearCase

Version Control

What’s the best version control system for your team — Perforce (Helix Core) or ClearCase? Here, we compare Perforce vs. ClearCase.

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Perforce vs. ClearCase: A Comparison

So, which is better — Perforce vs. ClearCase? Here we compare Perforce version control (Helix Core) against ClearCase.

The following chart outlines some of the differences between ClearCase and Helix Core. (Keep reading to go further in-depth on each of their capabilities.)

Perforce vs. ClearCase
PERFORMANCE AND SCALABILITYSlows down as your assets grow.Fast no matter how many 1,000s of users or petabytes of data.
REPLICATIONCostly add-on tool for replication (ClearCase MultiSite).Built-in replication (Perforce Federated Architecture).
BRANCHING AND MERGINGIt’s complicated.Automation, flexibility, and control.
WORKING WITH GITNo support for Git.Add-on option for Git teams (Helix4Git).
SECURITYTied to OS permissions — difficult to sync and maintain across architectures.Self-managed permissions and access control supports complex use cases.
COST OF OWNERSHIPExpensive licenses and productivity costs.Per-user licensing and productivity gains.


Or check out a PDF version of the comparison.

Performance and Scalability

Performance and scalability are critical for enterprise teams, especially those with large, monolithic codebases.

Here’s how ClearCase and Helix Core capabilities compare.

ClearCase’s Versioned Object Base (VOB) requires using either a dynamic view or a snapshot view to access your data.

Dynamic views requires installation of the MultiVersion File System (MVFS). This requires you to make modifications to the kernel of the operating system. Snapshot views do not require the new filesystem, but are notoriously slow.

ClearCase dynamic views requires a continuous network connection to the server(s). This slows down network operations, among other activities.

Helix Core has proven installations with 10,000+ users accessing a single repository. And many repositories hold millions of files and terabytes of data. Plus, Helix Core accelerates workflows with lightning-fast commits and concurrent builds.

Which Performs and Scales More?

Helix Core has better performance and can scale more than ClearCase.

When ClearCase projects mature, their codebase and history grows. The repository might not be able to keep up with the increased workload. So, the project can become impossible to maintain. Common operations like updating or merging might now take hours to complete.

Helix Core offers high performance at scale, no matter how big your projects and repositories grow. You’ll be able to maintain it — and sync or merge — in seconds.


Replication is also critical whenever remote teams need to work together around the globe.

To manage remote teams, ClearCase offers MultiSite. But you need to buy it separately. It also requires considerable effort to administer and maintain. If you replicate a repository for the person who needs it, you’ll have to pay for everyone who touches it. (Even if you have 100s or 1,000s of developers locally and only 5 people remote!)

ClearCase MultiSite also requires continual management of the “branch mastership.” This adds a lot of overhead to the development teams, reducing velocity.

Perforce delivers better replication with Helix Core. For small remote offices, Helix Core can incorporate a simple proxy/cache server. This requires almost no setup or administration to deliver benefits to global teams.

For larger offices, Helix Core has advanced replication technology called Perforce Federated Architecture. Each location has its own server (e.g., Linux, Macintosh, PC). And assets replicate automatically. This means the assets are available where and when teams need them.

Which Replication Is Better?

Helix Core’s replication is better, faster, and built right in to the product.

Your users need to access and submit to repositories from all over the world, 24 hours a day. Without proper caching or replication technology, remote teams suffer. Latency and bandwidth saturation severely hamper productivity.

ClearCase MultiSite is an old-fashioned way to address global VCS functionality. This doesn’t work for teams with multiple terabytes or petabytes of assets.

With Helix Core, there is no complex administration and no branch mastership to deal with.

Branching and Merging

Branching and merging are important operations for development teams.

ClearCase includes basic branching and merging capabilities using either base ClearCase or UCM.

With base ClearCase, there is no true relationship between ClearCase branches and, for example, the main codeline. The development process must be either written down somewhere for people to follow or automated using external scripts. Without creating automation, it is very difficult to know where to propagate changes to from branch to branch.

UCM is a layer on top of ClearCase that uses a very restrictive and inflexible branching model. As it sits on top of base ClearCase, it adds an additional performance cost to daily operations and introduces extra complexity.

Helix Core includes branching with Perforce Streams. Streams provide automation, flexibility, and control. You can automate your process and see branch-to-branch relationships graphically. So, you’ll be able to clearly identify where changes need to be applied.

Plus, Streams support complex development processes and reduce bottlenecks. And you won’t have to write any scripts.

[Related Blog: Perforce Branching 101]

Which Is Better For Branching and Merging?

Helix Core offers more automation, flexibility, and control for branching and merging.

In ClearCase, integrating work between teams can be time-consuming. This often leads to delayed integration and testing which causes longer, drawn-out code freezes, and delayed releases.

ClearCase users spend a lot of time fixing merge conflicts which hinders their productivity, reduces velocity and impacts the bottom line. With Helix Core, you won’t waste time unnecessarily reconciling merges and tracking changes.

Plus, bug fixes often need to be applied to several release branches to avoid regressions. With Perforce Streams, you can clearly identify where changes need to be applied. You won’t have to waste time tracking down individual changes.

Working With Git

Many teams use Git — or need to work with teams who do.

ClearCase lacks native Git management capabilities.

Helix Core has an add-on for Git teams, Helix4Git. Helix4Git is a high-performance Git server in a Perforce server.

Which Is Better?

Helix Core provides options for working with Git. ClearCase doesn’t.

[Related Blog: ClearCase vs. Git]

Security Controls

Security is always important in version control. 

ClearCase’s security follows a similar model to a UNIX filesystem. Permissions can be applied at the VOB, directory, or file level. However, because ClearCase’s permissions are dependent on the operating system it can be nearly impossible to synchronize permissions across different platforms (Linux, Windows, Mac) and network domains.

With Helix Core, you can limit user access down to individual files using any combination of users and groups. The permissions work across all operating systems and are consistent across networks. You’ll have complete file-level access control and a full audit log. Plus, Helix Core supports integrates with your organization's Identity Provider (IdP).

Helix Authentication Service (HAS) currently supports the OpenID Connect and SAML 2.0 authentication protocols. It can be used in conjunction with clients, plugins, and the command-line. This service is internally certified with Microsoft Azure Active Directory (AAD), Okta, and Google Identity. It is also known to be compatible with other IdPs such as Auth0, OneLogin, and Google G-Suite.

Which Is Better?

Both ClearCase and Helix Core provide strong security options. However, Helix Core offers more granular permissions and much simpler administration.

Cost of Ownership

Cost of ownership is an important consideration.

ClearCase’s active-user floating license model is expensive to purchase and maintain.

You’ll need additional tooling for global development, which adds to the costs. The lack of integrations and missed automation opportunities also drive up costs. So does administrative support. You typically need 1 administrator for 25–50 users.

Helix Core’s per-user licensing model and maintenance fees provide immediate cost-savings. Plus, the tooling you need to maintain the on-premises and global development sites is less expensive.

Administrators can easily maintain Helix Core — even for 1,000s of users across multiple development sites.

Which Is More Costly?

ClearCase is more expensive to license and maintain. Helix Core is less expensive with a greater ROI.

Reducing fixed costs is essential to realizing a competitive advantage. Helix Core reduces costs with less expensive infrastructure and extensive integrations. This leads to savings in productivity — and a comparatively lower total cost of ownership.

Here’s an example of the ROI of using Helix Core compared to ClearCase.

Helix Core syncs faster — and increases development velocity. That means saving:

5 minutes per update/sync * 10 syncs per week * $125/hour * 500 developers * 52 weeks = $2,708,333 saved

Plus, syncing faster enables teams to ship faster and ship more.

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Perforce vs. ClearCase: Why Switch to Helix Core?

Many teams are making the switch from ClearCase to Perforce Helix Core. And for good reasons.

ClearCase is a legacy system that has changed hands many times — from Atria to PureAtria (via Rational) to IBM (with support via HCL).

That means you can expect to see zero ongoing innovation and improvement in ClearCase. With ClearCase, you are paying a lot upfront for outdated technology.

Helix Core, on the other hand, is actively developed and maintained. New, exciting features are added to Helix Core with every release.

Helix Core beats ClearCase in capabilities across the board.

Here are the biggest reasons why teams leave ClearCase for Helix Core.


  • Lacks a modern architecture.
  • Doesn’t scale.
  • Is expensive to maintain.
  • Offers replication as an add-on — but it’s expensive and time-consuming.

Helix Core:

  • Provides a modern architecture.
  • Scales without limits.
  • Is less costly to maintain.
  • Has built-in replication.

It’s clear that ClearCase can’t handle the complexity and demands that enterprise development teams face today. But Helix Core can.

In fact, that’s what we hear from our customers every day.

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ClearCase to Helix Core: Examples From 3 Teams Who Made the Switch

Here’s why 3 enterprise teams made the switch.

Global Investment Bank

A financial services leader migrated from ClearCase to Helix Core. Here’s what happened.

Costs went down. ClearCase costed $500K annually. Helix Core cost $150K. That’s $350K saved each year.

Replications got faster. A simple replication used to take up to 20 minutes with ClearCase. But since migrating to Helix Core, those same tasks now take just 2 minutes or less.

Helix Core outperformed ClearCase, handling 1,000+ components, a 20GB repository,  and 1M+ files.

Read the full story >>

National Instruments

National Instruments migrated from ClearCase to Helix Core. Here’s what happened.

Speed, ease of use, flexibility, and cost were the factors that sold National Instruments on Helix Core.

Helix Core delivered. So, they expanded from software development to the hardware side of the business.

Performance improved. Helix Core handles 100,000 commands per 24-hour period on their main server.

Read the full story >>


Amdocs migrated from ClearCase to Helix Core. Here’s what happened.

The migration was fast. The actual migration took just 1 day, with the overall migration process completed in only 5 months.

Merge and integration activities got faster. They used to take days to complete — and require multiple developers. In Helix Core, these same tasks take minutes.

Costs went down. They no longer needed a full-time admin to oversee their licenses. A part-time admin can oversee 1,000+ licenses in Helix Core.

Read the full story >>

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Helix Core: The Clear Choice For ClearCase Users

Helix Core is the clear choice for ClearCase users.

See for yourself why teams are making the switch from ClearCase to Helix Core. You can get started for free for up to 5 users.

Try it out today.

Switch To Helix Core


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