IBM Rational and WebSphere Strategies

I attended last week a conference in Geneva where IBM was presenting the strategy for its Rational and WebSphere software development solutions. If you consider IBM as a hardware company, you should realize that today services is the most important revenue sector and software is the most important source of income. Currently, IBM focus is on aligning IT (and software development) with business goals and this objective impact also the strategy of its software development solutions.

For WebSphere, the most important point is the recent acquisition of Ilog by IBM. Ilog has a strong solution for business rules management and the goal of IBM is to push this product to its existing customers and improve the positioning of WebSphere in Business Process Management. As both companies were already partners, there are no specific product integration issues. On the other end of the market, IBM is fighting RedHat’s JBoss with the free WebSphere Application Server Community Edition, pledging to offer competitive support prices for organizations that need it. There was also a presentation of the sMash, a product that allows to create rapidly dynamic web applications using PHP and Groovy running on an optimized java virtual machine. This is the commercial result of the work done at projectzero.org.

On the Rational side, the intention is to provide a native implementation in the new Jazz platform of products like ClearQuest and BuildForge. The next version of the Team Concert product will be improved in terms of enterprise reporting and global project management. The product is still developed using the open commercial concept, where the software is proprietary but the development process is open for customers’ input. As far as Telelogic products are concerned, they will keep their independence and industrial software focus, but they should also get more integrated on the Jazz platform in the longer term. Rational is also introducing a new consulting concept: Measured Capability Improvement Framework (MCIF). The goal of this approach is to check how software development practices are aligned on business objectives.

With the current economic conditions, it could not be easy to sell software development solutions that require large budgets and important modifications of current practices. IBM addresses this challenge by proposing a modular approach that allows a gradual transfer to its Jazz platform and the use of open source solutions in the overall software development toolbox.

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