IBM aims to 'Jazz' up development with new tool, community

Eclipse follow-on aims to improve collaborative development

IBM’s Rational Software unit today launched a technology called Jazz, which will be supported by a new developer community and is aimed at fostering the development of tools that bolster collaboration on large projects. At the same time, Rational will unveil the first Jazz-based product.

The Web portal was opened at the IBM Rational Software Development Conference in Orlando.

Developers will be able to use the site to offer IBM input on requirements, report bugs and tweak code posted there. But the site won’t be a truly open-source endeavor, because IBM will own any products built using its code, acknowledged Dave Locke, Rational’s director of offerings marketing.

IBM described Jazz as a follow-on to the popular Eclipse open-source project that it launched in 2001 and later turned over to the independent Eclipse Foundation. 

While Eclipse focused on improving individual developer productivity, Jazz zeroes in on all cycles of the development process and on supporting collaboration among development teams, IBM officials said. They added that the Jazz technology will eventually be incorporated into all Rational products.

Breaking Down Silos

Tony Callan, manager of architecture governance at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Michigan, said he welcomed the Jazz project, noting that when developers working on different parts of a job work together, the overall project functions more efficiently. 

“How do you break those silos down to where everyone is working for a common purpose instead of being scattered?” Callan said. “You need to have tools that will work together to get the testing, requirements and design teams visibility into how things are going.” 

Ricardo Garcia, a director at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida Inc., said he expects Jazz to help address issues like managing parallel development processes, where collaboration is vital. 

“Jazz not only brings the communications channel inside the development platform, but it integrates everything,” Garcia said. “The integration with the complete workflow for the life cycle ... is a big improvement.”

Locke noted that IBM also plans to announce at the conference a beta version of the first product built with the Jazz technology. The product, IBM Rational Team Concert, is a plug-in for all Rational development tools that is designed to support collaboration among distributed agile development teams. 

Carey Schwaber, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc., said that Jazz will likely make it easier for Rational users to finally get the benefits of collaboration and the improved visibility into project status that IBM “has been promising for a long time.”

With Jazz, all users in the development process can use role-based, best-of-breed tools with a single interface to access project data from a single repository, Schwaber said. “People can look at the overall status of the project rather than their little slice of the pie,” she noted. 

Although the integration among Rational’s tools has improved in recent years, it isn’t as good as that of some competitors’ products and sometimes hinders collaboration, Schwaber said. As a result, Rational has been losing some of its market share to Microsoft Corp. and other vendors, she added. 

But Jazz should help Rational regain some of that market, Schwaber said. 

New Products

Also slated to be announced at the Rational user conference:

IBM Rational Portfolio Manager 7.1, which includes an AJAX interface to allow team members to manage work and submit time and expense reports
IBM Rational ClearCase 7.01, which can isolate data based on the location of a user.
IBM Rational Asset Manager, a new product that lets users see how code, patterns and tests are used by dispersed teams.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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