RealTime IT News

IBM's Atlantic Sets Sail

Officials at IBM took the wraps off its Rational-based update Wednesday, code-named Atlantic, focusing on an application development environment that includes both programmers and business analysts.

The new application lifecycle management (ALM) tools are expected to be available for download Dec. 3, with full availability by the end of December.

The Armonk, N.Y.-based company moved its Rational code base completely over to the Eclipse 3.0 framework, an open source tools developer community, in order to provide an integrated set of IBM tools on one platform.

Four new products headline the release of the Rational-based lineup: Portfolio Manager, Software Architect, Software Modeler and Manual Tester. IBM also enhanced and renamed its WebSphere Studio Site Developer and WebSphere Studio Application Developer to IBM Rational Web Developer for WebSphere Software and IBM Rational Application Developer for WebSphere Software, respectively.

The Rational upgrades are part of what IBM has dubbed business-driven development needs within the enterprise, where business analysts and software developers work hand-in-hand to make an application that will perform effectively out of the gate.

"A key part [of our strategy] is to allow our customers to be able to define, from a business point of view, what results they are trying to achieve; manage their investments and development; and monitor performance," said Michael Devlin, Rational software general manager, in a press conference Wednesday. "[This way], they can actually see how the development activities they've undertaken in a deployed environment perform not only from a quality of service point of view, but also in terms of business results and return on investment."

Two of the new Rational apps, Portfolio Manager and Manual Tester, perform those business-centric functions. Portfolio Manager gives a big-picture view of software development progress and allows business and software managers to steer the project in the direction they want. Manual Tester, like the name implies, lets managers perform tests to see how software changes will affect the overall application.

The biggest change in IBM's Rational strategy is the move to support the Unified UML 2.0 standard, a departure from Rational's XDE and Rose modeling products used in the past. Officials say they will still support the two usurped products, as well as add enhancements down the road.

IBM has been working on UML integration within Rational for some time. In March, company officials said UML was a key part of its Rational strategy, because it can be customized to deploy within a Web service infrastructure and it sits on the Eclipse platform.

Now that Rational software is married to the open source project, integration problems between application components is further reduced.

"In the Eclipse meta-model facility, we can eliminate the traditional approach to integration, which is typically point-to-point between the tools and which has traditionally required datapassing," IBM's Devlin said. "By moving to this mechanism, we're sort of once again redefining in the marketplace the lifecycle, how it's automated and what tools support it."

IBM also announced a new "Ready for Rational" program for ISVs Wednesday, an extension to its existing "Ready for WebSphere" initiative. Software vendors who partake in the program have access to marketing incentives, after their application is validated by IBM to integrate with the company's Rational software suite. Tuesday, the company opened up its ISV advanced membership to more ISVs to get more vendors into the program.