IBM strengthens ALM line, as Micro Focus buys competitors Borland, part of Compuware

Application lifecycle management (ALM) heated up with announcements of IBM's new ALM product and enhancements and the acquisition of Borland and some Compuware assets this week.

Targeting what it calls "smarter" product design and development, IBM has announced a new product and enhancements

to its application lifecycle management (ALM) portfolio that target integrated systems and delivery, as well as some tighter integrations with the acquired Telelogic ALM products and continued evolution to the Jazz platform.

In related news, a new and unexpected player joined the ALM big leagues, as Micro Focus International bought Borland and some of Compuware's products this week.

Software's mission-critical status in the business world is behind IBM's push into ALM. "Businesses today are under tremendous pressure to be more productive, innovative and reuse a lot of assets they have. [For] these companies, especially the ones that make things, a lot of the innovation they can provide to customers going forward will be based on the inclusion of software technology," said Greg Sikes, director, enterprise architecture and systems modeling, IBM Rational Software. The goal for IBM is to help these companies built intelligent products, he said.

What "smarter" products means, said Michael Azoff, senior research analyst at the U.K.-based Butler Group, "is a focus on software rich systems engineering, reflecting the increasing role that software plays in products today. Software rich systems offer greater versatility and are open to innovation: the Apple iPhone applications explosion is an example of that in the consumer market."

Butler Group's research shows a major shift, as use of software has increased dramatically in the automobile industry, aerospace, and other engineering industries. "With the growing role of software in products there is a need to manage the software development," Azoff said. "IBM Rational/Telelogic is targeting that market with its announcement."

New to the portfolio is IBM Rational Team Webtop, the front-end for the integrated systems and software delivery platform powered by Jazz. Aimed at extended product design teams, Team Webtop is a "portal enabled by mashup technology," Sikes said. The portal will provide a Web-based view into IBM's other software delivery tools.

"Jazz.net is important for IBM Rational as it is the platform of choice going forward – the IBM Rational and Telelogic portfolios will be either built on, for new products, or integrated with Jazz.net," Azoff said.

In addition, DOORS, the former Telelogic requirements management tool, has a new Web interface. "In the past you had a more heavyweight front-end product or used emulation mode where performance and bandwidth were issues," Sike said. DOORS is also now integrated with IBM Rational Quality Manager, he said, which was built on the Jazz platform. "You now have better traceability of requirments in DOORS and test cases managed in Quality Manager."

IBM also enhanced both IBM Rational Change and IBM Rational Synergy (a former Telelogic product) with centralized servers to better serve organizations with multiple locations and distributed teams. Jazz-based Team Concert, a collaborative software delivery environment, has been scaled to accommodate an unlimited number of users. And Rhapsody, another Telelogic product, has new agile software development workflow and modeling capabilities.

IBM also announced the opening of its first Solutions Experience Lab for Systems Engineering and Embedded Software at the IBM Innovation Center (IIC) in Waltham, Mass. More labs are expected to open at IICs in Austin, Texas, Tokyo and Munich later this year.

Meanwhile, this week two of IBM's ALM competitors were acquired this by Micro Focus International Plc, a U.K. provider of enterprise application modernization and Management software. Micro Focus announced that it would acquire Borland and Compuware's Quality Solutions product line.

The acquisitions "will certainly catapult Micro Focus to the front rank of the application lifecycle management market," said Butler Group's Azoff. "It remains to hear how Micro will go forward with these acquisitions. Compuware has been going through a major shift – it calls this Compuware 2.0 – and it moves the company to a mainly application performance management focus. Borland was in the red in the last few years, so this acquisition is the best possible outcome, as I'm sure Micro will aim to make the most of its portfolio."

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