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IBM announces collaborative SDLC initiative, Jazz product suite

IBM rolled out parts of its Jazz platform for developer collaboration and also disclosed an emerging effort to connect diverse development tools using REST-based data integrations at the IBM Rational conference.

ORLANDO, Fla. -- IBM has proposed an initiative to create a common architecture for integrating software development...

processes based on Internet protocols such as HTTP. Details are still emerging on the Open Services for Lifecycle Collaboration initiative, but the company likely hopes it can repeat its success promoting the industry standard Eclipse client IDE -- this time with software aimed at the interchange of tool data.

Open Services for Lifecycle Collaboration will be launched under the auspices of the company's website. The program was announced as part of the IBM Rational Software Development Conference in Orlando. At the conference, IBM Rational also announced the first round of products based on its Jazz collaborative platform for developers.

In fact, the new initiative appears to be an offshoot of IBM Rational's work on Jazz, which has been described as an attempt to bring the tool integration qualities Eclipse allows individuals to the team level.

Numerous third-party vendors joined IBM at the Orlando conference in announcing plans for Jazz-based products. These include Black Duck Software, which is integrating its Governing IP Compliance software to IBM's Jazz-based Rational Team Concert; CAST Software, which is integrating its Automated Application Intelligence solution to IBM Rational Team Concert; and iRise, which is integrating its Application Simulation software with IBM Rational Requirements Composer. Among other companies with Jazz plans are Mainsoft and VMLogix. IBM also said the ubiquitous Subversion tool set is able to integrate with the Jazz platform.

For its part, IBM said its own Jazz-enabled IBM Rational Team Concert will be available by the end of this month. The software suite integrates instant messaging and presence awareness into the management of a software delivery project across geographic regions. IBM said it is in beta now with Jazz parts known as IBM Rational Requirements Composer and IBM Rational Quality Manager. IBM and its business partners expect to release 20 products using the team collaboration capabilities of Jazz this year.

Tony Baer, principal of On Strategies, said the debut of the Jazz product line marked a step toward greater integration for the former Rational software lifecycle tools. "They had only point integrations before this," he said.

Jazz itself -- described at times as a technology platform for team collaboration -- has not been particularly clear. But, with integrations in the offing for this long-awaited suite, the view should become crisper.

Analyst Baer said, "A couple of years ago Jazz was pretty ethereal. Now we have the outline of a product plan."

"I like the idea," said Steve Hendricks, analyst for IDC, discussing Jazz. "It is providing collaboration with a higher degree of structure than they have been doing."

"You could integrate Rational products in the past, but it wasn't as easy and productive as we would have liked it to be," said Scott Hebner, vice president of strategy and marketing for IBM Rational. "When you integrate point-to-point parts like that, it is as if IBM is deciding what the workflow is, not the customer."

Jazz, he indicated, is built around the concept of a customer configurable workflow. Meanwhile, Hebner described the Open Services Lifecycle Collaboration initiative as a drive to create standard protocols for exchanging data.

At the moment, he asserted, "there aren't standards for how different tools in the lifecycle share data, and interact with each other."

While working with third-parties on Jazz programs, IBM began trying out data integration schemes based on so-called REST architectures. This is said to allow loose coupling, for example, by using URIs to reference the diverse data related to development projects, rather than doing whole-scale data imports. Company representatives at the Orlando conference said the initiative to find agreed-on REST-oriented protocols for heterogeneous development tools is in its early stages.

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An IBM representative said the company had discussed its lifecycle collaboration initiative with various companies. Microsoft, a major force in application development, was not among them.

"Having Microsoft work with us would be very helpful," said Martin Nally, chief technology officer of IBM Rational. "Microsoft would be one of the companies I would hope to talk to you about Open Services Lifecycle Collaboration."

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