Booch: Two things. First, I feel like a kid in a candy shop. Second, IBM Research really is Rational's secret weapon. I feel like a kid in the candy shop because prior to Rational joining IBM, IBM Research was certainly doing things in the space of tools, but it wasn't like the software group really had a central place to catch all these things coming out of there. Well, now they do. For the last year it has been this wonderful opportunistic romp through research to say "Hey, you guys are doing cool things, come join us. Let's take what you have done and see if we can bring some things to fruition." In fact, this year we are spending a large number of millions to fund a number of research projects that are focused on just the tooling effort. This is something Rational has done on a smaller level in the past, but now we can do it in a big way.
InfoWorld: Everyone is focusing on Java vs. .Net. What are some of the more interesting things people might be missing out there?
Booch: Even though patterns are very much part of the atmosphere, I still think it is a market that has tremendous opportunity for growth. It goes back to my premise that building systems [is] really no longer just about language; that is only the stuff we use for the vocabulary of what we are doing. The real hard problem is, how do I come up with the right kind of components, the right designs, and how do you syndicate those kinds of things? That is what patterns are all about. In fact, if you look at things like IBM's patterns for e-Business and Sun's J2EE patterns, what these folks are telling us is, these platforms are good but they are still very complex. The way to bridge that complexity is by building patterns on top of them. That's the best kept secret inside the marketplace right now.
InfoWorld: You are a big believer in grid computing. Why?
Booch: I am a big fan of it but I don't think it is as revolutionary as it is evolutionary in that the economic, technical, and business planets are starting to align right now to make grid reasonable. I remember back in my DOD (Department Of Defense) days we were dealing with large distributed systems, which could be considered a grid, but by no means were we sophisticated enough to deal with any of the autonomic stuff that is going on now. The basic problem now is this: As I build in the enterprise space, it is getting hard just getting the business logic and the presentation logic right. So what we see happening in the grid space is, we have virtualization of the problems that can focus square on with scalability. In the past, I had to worry about those as an architect from the very beginning. But given where grid is now, it becomes more of an implementation issue for me as an architect because now I can view the topology upon which I build as something that is scalable in a number of dimensions without my architectural intervention. It feeds further into my mantra of raising levels of abstraction.
InfoWorld: Grid computing looks to be an important piece of IBM's On Demand initiative, technically speaking. What input are you having there in terms of shaping and directing the overall effort?