IBM sings Jazz tune for app development

Collaborative platform advances at the Rational Software Development Conference 2007 as IBM looks to become a leader in the development tool space

IBM will begin delivering on its Jazz vision for collaborative application development Monday with the introduction of collaborative portal software intended to boost team productivity.

Called IBM Rational Team Concert, the software is one of a series of product and program introductions planned for the IBM Rational Software Development Conference 2007 event in Orlando, Fla. IBM also will expand its Web site to enable users to check out Jazz-related projects and offer input. The Jazz Project focuses on collaboration across geographic boundaries and is based on Eclipse technology.

With Team Concert, which currently is in a beta form, IBM is producing a portal optimized for agile development teams in mid- and large-sized businesses. IBM plans a family of Concert offerings and extensions to existing IBM products geared toward collaborative, team-based development.

"It's a real-time, collaborative portal for improving the productivity and innovation of software delivery teams," said Scott Hebner, vice president of marketing and strategy for IBM Rational.

Developers using Team Concert can collaborate in real time based on the context of the work they are doing. For example, if a requirement were changed, other developers would automatically be notified of the change, Hebner said.

"[The change] would automatically show up in the code," he said. "It's more real-time linkage of the artifacts."

Instant messaging capabilities will be featured in Team Concert. To bolster real-time collaboration, IBM will offer adapters to tie Team Concert to IBM's ClearCase source code management tool and the ClearQuest work item manager.

Developers and customers can participate in the development of Team Concert through, Hebner said. General availability for Team Concert is set for the first half of 2008.

With, IBM is expanding access to Jazz technology beyond the dozen or so customers who have had it so far.

"We're opening up the community to Rational customers so they can get access to the technology," Hebner said. "We're going to be developing the products in a more open and transparent fashion."

At the conference, IBM also will unveil "incubator" technologies based on Jazz that are focused on agile development. Incubator offerings are prototype technologies that may or may not become products; they will be offered for such purposes as story authoring, which is an agile development concept in which software projects are described in an evolving story format rather than relying on format requirements management.

Incubators also are planned for team reporting, code analysis, and process authoring. 

IBM describes Jazz as falling into the domain of ALM (application lifecycle management) 2.0, which features agility and greater flexibility. The company believes the open forum approach to its Jazz Project is different than what ALM rival Borland Software is doing, Hebner said. Borland also lacks infrastructure to bolster geographically distributed development, he claimed. HP's Mercury technology, meanwhile, does not offer a development environment, he said.

An analyst expressed high hopes for IBM's efforts.

"I am very bullish on Jazz," said Carey Schwaber, senior analyst at Forrester.

"What Jazz does is gives you one interface to all the data about the project," Schwaber said

"I think this is an opportunity for IBM to really re-take market leadership in the development tool space," said Schwaber.

With its collaboration capabilities, Jazz is offering what Borland seeks to provide, Schwaber said. Mercury, meanwhile, has focused on bookending the development process with requirements management and testing but has not done much in ALM, she said.

Also at the conference, IBM plans to announce products to support collaboration by geographically distributed development teams. Featured is Web-centric, lower-bandwidth software to reduce overhead costs of deploying clients. As part of this effort, IBM is announcing availability of IBM Rational Asset Manager, which provides intelligence into software assets and how they are consumed in a collaborative environment, on June 29.

The Asset Manager software features a registry of design and development assets, such as codes, patterns, and tests. Organizations can reduce cost and time and communicate across disparate global teams.

Also at the conference, IBM is unveiling version 7.01 of IBM Rational ClearCase. This product helps isolate data based on the location of a user, which can be critical in cases where a user is in a country with export controls preventing work on certain aspects of code.

IBM also has built a plug-in focused on geographically distributed development teams for IBM Rational Composer 7.2. The Composer offering features a process helping developers deliver customized, consistent software development projects.

Development teams from the IBM Lab in Bangalore, India, meanwhile, have published a Redbook entitled "Global Development and Delivery in Practice: Experiences of the Rational India Lab." The material, accessible here, covers common challenges in geographically distributed development environments and the steps IBM took to tailor Rational tools to solve these problems.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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