The IBM’s Jazz project has just released the beta number 3 of its Rational Team Concert (also named Rational Team Concert 1.0 RC2), the first product based on the Jazz Team Server. I had the chance to attend recently in Geneva to an interesting presentation given by John Kellerman, the product manager of Jazz. A long time IBM employee, John worked already on the AD/Cycle project and has been a part of Eclipse since its origins in 1998. He gave an insightful speech on how a company can “develop commercial software in an open transparent way”. This means that the development schedule and progress is completely visible and that open interfaces will allow other companies to integrate their products on the Jazz platform, even if some, like source management systems, are competitors of Rational products. For John, the gain achieved by having an open relationship with customers far outweighs the loss of having some code and development schedule visible by the competition. He said also that having Rational executives agree on this was not an easy task.
The final release of Team Concert should be somewhere in June. Doing it on time for the Rational Software Development Conference would have been a good thing, but apparently this result will be difficult to achieve, even if the product has been beta tested since June 2007. Between 6 to 12 partners are working with IBM to have their products integrated with Team Concert, even if the current API are not yet finalized. A next goal will be to provide integration with Microsoft’s Visual Studio. Even if the product is open, integration could not be an easy task when some access rights have two be synchronized between the Jazz server and the external product for instance.
The origin of the project was the need to have a common infrastructure for the many products (ClearCase, ClearQuest, and etc..) grouped under the Rational banner. If Eclipse could be considered a desktop integration platform, Jazz has the ambition to provide development process integration at the server level. Distributed teams will be able to set a clear software process with related projects roles and share easily artifacts like piece of code, defects or build results. It will also provide managers (IT or business) some good dashboards to follow the project progression.
From what I have seen from a demo that shows Rational Team Concert features accessed through an Eclipse client, the product targets more medium to large teams (even if currently there is a limitation of 250 users by server) that operate in a geographically distributed environments. Some “template” processes will be available with the tool for approaches like OpenUP or Scrum. Even if the product tries to get an “agile” label, the way it enforces structure and project reporting seems to make it more suited for projects that need (or want) strong auditing features. John told us that the tool was liked by both IBM developers and auditors. I don’t think that such a convergence of likeness could be achieved in many places…
It was funny to see that the “we are agile” marketing slide comes just after a slide mentioning that one of the goal of the tool is to reduce status meetings. I thought daily meetings were one of the main concepts behind Scrum ;o) It is however also true that geographically distributed teams face different challenges.