IBM to boost Web enablement in Rational tools

Seeking to more easily accommodate distributed development, IBM later this year plans to modernise its Rational software lifecycle management products to make them strictly Web-based.

While Rational has products now that can run in a browser, IBM is focused on server enablement of the offerings so they live on the Web, said Danny Sabbah, IBM Rational general manager. Rational RequisitePro, for example, could be deployed as a distributed application.

Key to the effort will be the federation of project databases to make them more easily accessible to globally distributed development teams. Federated databases will provide a single view of an application on the Web.

"You'll have automated federation of all aspects of the software development lifecycle process," Sabbah said.

The company is focused on enabling users to achieve globalized development and regulatory compliance and build SOA.

"What we're going to do is cheaper, better, faster and more flexible," Sabbah said. "We're going to be improving our ability to [accommodate these needs] across open standards to establish these types of dynamic communities of interest."

IBM plans to preview the products in June and start rolling them at the end of the year and in 2007.

IBM's Web enablement plan is about providing what users are looking for, said analyst Carey Schwaber of Rational. "I think the market's demanding it and I think that globally distributed development requires it."

Not all Rational tools currently even have Web interfaces, she said.

VA Software's SourceForge and Collabnet's self-named offering for developer collaboration have had the type of collaborative platform IBM is seeking, Schwaber said. But those vendors have lacked best-of-breed capabilities.

"Those vendors have had a feature that Rational is missing and that feature is their main selling point," Schwaber said. "What [IBM wants] to be able to do is give you a place to go to get access to the data and all the tools."

"The plan sounds good but they have a lot of different tools. The question is how suitable the Web interface is to each," Schwaber said.

Although the Web-based plans for the Rational products might sound a bit like a software-as-a-service approach to offering these tools, this is not the case, according to IBM.

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