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Gucci Designs Success with Aldon
“We found Aldon Lifecycle Manager for iSeries to be an extremely vital piece of the development process to keep the structure under control. We couldn’t function without it.” – Francesco Morabito, Senior Manager, Gucci Gucci has helped to create and define concepts of fashion around the world for the past 50 years. Gucci's retail arm has relied heavily on the AS/400 to help run its business operations out of their headquarters in Florence, Italy. According to Francesco Morabito, a Development Manager given the mandate of reorganizing the programming environment, they were starting to encounter problems because several different programming teams were operating independently of each other and developing their own customized versions of their retail software package. The solution was to centralize development and bring some structure to the development process by instituting a change management system: Aldon Lifecycle Manager for iSeries.

Gucci had been a long-time user of a retail software package from an outside vendor. Over time, a multi-layered structure of different versions developed. The problem was a lack of commonality between the versions. Morabito explained, “Developers from all over the world were modifying and ‘fixing’ the package. In the end, we had a package that appeared to work. But we had no idea what the software makeup below that was like.“ It was decided to incorporate elements of the three existing regional versions of Gucci’s retail software to create a single version of the retail package. Morabito said, “We realized we needed a change management tool to coordinate development and to facilitate the process of testing.” Aldon Lifecycle Manager for iSeries seemed to be the perfect fit for Gucci. According to Morabito, “The main reasons for wanting Aldon Lifecycle Manager for iSeries were that it was native to the AS/400, it offered a seamless transition for the users because the interface was PDM-like and we wanted to have a distribution process that was AS/400-based.”

A Multi-Layered Approach
While the need for a multi-layered approach to their software has not changed, Aldon Lifecycle Manager for iSeries has made life a lot easier for the programmers at Gucci. The first step in their centralization process was to create the unified production version of the retail package. This common starting point would then be modified to reflect the needs of the three regions: Europe, Asia and the US. Another layer of modifications would then be made to reflect local laws and regulations. The difference this time was that, thanks to Aldon Lifecycle Manager for iSeries, each version was working from a common starting point. Furthermore, all changes and modifications were properly documented and recorded. The fact that much of this code work could be done at the same time further emphasized the usefulness of Aldon Lifecycle Manager for iSeries. Morabito agreed, saying, “it was really a complex scenario that was achieved with several simultaneous operations. It would not have been possible without the help of Aldon Lifecycle Manager for iSeries.

Gucci Designs Success with Aldon

Controlling Development
Aldon Lifecycle Manager for iSeries also resulted in some fairly substantial changes in the way development was done at Gucci. A major part of Gucci’s decision to use Aldon Lifecycle Manager for iSeries was a desire to secure and control the development life cycle. Each development team was assigned an Aldon Lifecycle Manager for iSeries Administrator. “We decided that nothing could happen to the source. No checkout, no promotes, nothing without the Aldon Lifecycle Manager for iSeries Administrator being involved. We knew from the beginning that this would create a huge burden for the Administrator. But that was the only way to start knowing exactly what was happening,” explained Morabito. “We wanted to close the door of the software facility and open it only when we require. We now have very tight controls being enforced with Aldon Lifecycle Manager for iSeries. And that would’ve been impossible without Aldon Lifecycle Manager for iSeries.” But that was only the first step in the centralization process. According to Morabito, now that members of both development teams have become accustomed to a high level of control, some of the restrictions are being eased. “Our second step is to relax the restrictions on the checkout-promote activity, in terms of promoting from development to QA and back to development. We are allowing the developers to do this in order to relieve the burden of the Administrator, who now comes into play only when we’re talking of the promotion from QA to production. So, we still have control over the software facility, but we are giving a little bit of independence to the development teams so they can speed up their work.” Once again, Morabito feels that this level of control would not be possible without the versatility of Aldon Lifecycle Manager for iSeries’s authorities structure.

A Well Deserved Reputation
Morabito agreed that Aldon’s reputation for strong customer service and support was well deserved. He confirmed that the experience with Aldon Lifecycle Manager for iSeries was very positive from beginning to end. This even extends to their dealings with Aldon’s technical people. As he says, “we didn’t have any major problem with support, as far as training goes, as far as feedback, as far as requests for modification or additional instruction on how to better make use of the software. I think we have had a very good response from the Aldon people.” In conclusion, Morabito could only say that Aldon Lifecycle Manager for iSeries has become an essential part of the development process at Gucci. “We have invested a lot of time and resources in this. We found Aldon Lifecycle Manager for iSeries to be an extremely vital piece of the development process, in order to prevent strange changes, or unauthorized changes or simply to keep the structure under control. We couldn’t function without it.”

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