With IBM's acquisition of Rational Software, Grady Booch -- one of the original developers of the Unified Modeling Language and a thought leader in the area of architectural software -- has become the proverbial kid in the candy store. In his role as an IBM Fellow, Booch will help invent IBM's software future. He believes IBM's large cash reserves and a close working relationship with the high-voltage brain power of IBM Research will significantly quicken to market a range of technical innovations in the area of tooling.
As he prepared for his keynote at this week's EclipseCon show, Booch talked to InfoWorld Editor at Large Ed Scannell about the joys of eating all the technology candy you want, what's going on outside of the battle between Java and .Net, and programming trends among large-scale systems.
InfoWorld: As IBM's designated Free Radical, what havoc you have been able to create?
Booch: A number of things. The real cool thing about working with a large organization is -- and [IBM] is two orders of magnitude larger than what I have been used to -- there are so many bright people doing great things. It is interesting to connect the dots among them. One area where I have been helping to connect the dots is in the area of patterns. Patterns are perhaps the greatest thing to come along in software engineering in the past decade. They are part of the atmosphere of most good development shops. But the issue is, as I build systems, there is this vocabulary of naming these societies of classes that work together well with each other. With that practice now embedded in most shops, there are real opportunities to raise the level of abstraction again. [We] are starting to look at vertical architectural patterns, opportunities for that sort of commoditization.
InfoWorld: Any real-world examples you can point to?
Booch: The insurance industry is doing that already with its insurance application architecture. State Farm tells me 85 percent of that market now uses a common framework to some degree. The auto makers in Europe have banded together around BMW. Others are saying they need to come up with a common architecture for in-car electronics so they don't have compete with one another with these proprietary systems but instead build on top of each other's. So things are emerging. But as I go about being an architectural mentor, I realize people are reinventing the same patterns over and over again. I have been working with Grant Larsen and Jonathan Adams, for instance, and together we are trying to connect the dots on assembling the larger body of experience, especially within IGS [IBM Global Services] to see if we can codify them and then provide some higher degrees of automation with them.
InfoWorld: What sort of experience has it been working with IBM Research?