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A first look at IBM–Rational

The key IBM buzzwords — e-business on demand, autonomic computing, open standards, enterprise integration, Linux and the like — were flowing from the lips of IBM executives at last month’s IBM developerWorks conference in New Orleans. Like everyone in high-tech, IBM is searching for the “next big thing.”

History has shown that some of IBM’s strategic efforts will fail (AD/Cycle, SAA, PC/RT and OS/2), as others succeed well beyond expectations (WebSphere, AS/400, the Java strategy, DB2 and Linux). A key strategy directly affecting developers -- the integration of the former Rational Software into the IBM Software Group -- is showing early progress just two months into its life.

The annual IBM conference also brought about an opportunity for some early analysis of IBM’s Rational buy, closed about two months earlier, and its installation into the Software Group. Steve Mills, general manager of the Software Group, restated his description of the acquisition as “critical to rounding out IBM development capabilities,” adding design, test, team development and runtime technologies to the IBM software development toolbox. Mike Dev- lin, former Rational CEO and now general manager of the new IBM unit, said his operation “needed to accelerate our reach and accelerate our technology vision.”

According to several IBM execs interviewed at the conference, it is so far, so good on reaching those goals. Rational’s technology has been integrated into IBM offerings ranging from various WebSphere products to DB2 and the Tivoli systems and network management toolsets. Scott Hebner, director of WebSphere marketing, said Rational quickly makes IBM a player in the .NET world, and bolsters IBM’s push into model-based development. Meanwhile, Tivoli GM Robert LeBlanc said his unit plans to utilize the Rational configuration management toolset and testing tools in its line of systems management offerings.

Give IBM credit. The integration of Rational appears to be off to a good start. One does not sense the acrimony that followed the Lotus and Tivoli acquisitions for years. Former Rational marketing chief Eric Schurr, who maintains that post within IBM, says he is quickly “remaking Rational’s marketing to conform to the IBM model.” But clearly, no acquisition can be considered a success after just a couple of months. We’ll keep an eye on the progress of this one.

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About the Author

Mike Bucken is former Editor-in-Chief of Application Development Trends magazine.

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