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Rational Version 7.0 Tools

The Rational Software Architect product affords highly flexible model management.

IBM Rational shipped 7.0 versions of its application development lifecycle suite in December, a release that brings the components compatibility with the Eclipse 3.2 IDE framework and bolsters IBM's Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) message.

"IBM Rational Software Delivery Platform 7.0 [addresses] the trend around SOA and helping customers getting started with [SOAs]," says Dave Locke, director of offerings marketing at IBM Rational.

In fact, as more customers adopt SOA, they are confronted with mapping their enterprise architectures and business processes to IT services architectures, and automating and coordinating interrelated services, according to IBM documents. More and more development teams are required to interact with the IT systems, manage co-development complexity and meet new compliance regulations.

The 7.0 suite provides a set of desktop products to help global development teams better design, deploy and manage delivery of software and systems architectures with an emphasis on lifecycle quality, the company says.

Indeed, the version 7.0 products address a growing demand in application development, which is to support distributed team processes and development groups that are geographically dispersed. "There's a very strong need [among the development community] to get to know 'How do I work with my international collaborators?'" Locke says.

Dave Locke
"IBM Rational Software Delivery Platform 7.0 [addresses] the trend around SOA and helping customers getting started with [SOAs]"
Dave Locke, Director of Offerings Marketing, IBM Rational

The release strengthens IBM Rational's message to the open source community, especially Eclipse users. Key to that is the fact that the products will install directly into existing Eclipse 3.2 environments-the current version of the open-source IDE and application framework originally developed by IBM and donated to the open source community five years ago. This brings IBM up to the latest open source version.

In another area, the modeling products in the suite have been upgraded to support the UML 2.1 specification.

The release of version 7.0 also helps IBM clarify its multiple development tools messages to customers, according to one analyst.

Rational Software Architect
[click image for larger view]
The Rational Software Architect product affords highly flexible model management.

"The key thing is [bringing the tools] into alignment with the rest of IBM's story, as well as improving their work with [the] Eclipse [group]," says Bola Rotibi, principal analyst for application lifecycle at researcher Ovum in London. "IBM Rational Delivery Platform 7.0 is the most integrated version to date and 8.0 will be even more integrated."

In addition, IBM has integrated product support for the desktop products including WebSphere Services Registry Repository, Tivoli Component Application Manager and WebSphere Business Modeler. Some Rational team product offerings are now integrated with the desktop products to help companies get SOA results faster using a services architecture model, the company says.

Part of IBM's challenge since it bought Rational in 2003 for $2.1 billion is to simplify the company's primary messages to customers. The functional and philosophical changes made in the version 7.0 tools are an indication that the company is heading in that direction, according to Rotibi.

"One of the criticisms from customers is that IBM has a lot of [different] programming tools ... however, the whole concept of application delivery is quite complex," says Rotibi. "The challenge for developers is that the features that you need to go end-to-end is quite considerable."

Don't expect IBM Rational's support for Eclipse to substantially shake up the competition with Microsoft's Visual Studio. "[IBM is] competitive but Microsoft's world is based upon its platform [Windows and Visual Studio] and Rational is focused on Java on the coding side," says Rotibi.

Rotibi says there are areas where the two companies' product lines need to mesh for customers' sake. "If you look at the modeling side, it's important that the two talk to each other ... [for instance,] things like requirements are not technology bound."

The updated tools in IBM Rational Software Delivery Platform 7.0 include Application Developer for WebSphere Software, Software Architect, Software Modeler, Systems Developer, Functional Tester and Functional Tester Plus, Manual Tester, and ClearQuest and Functional Testing. In addition, the Data and Application Modeling Bundle provides Data Architect 7.0 and Software Modeler 7.0 together.

About the Author

Stuart J. Johnston has covered technology, especially Microsoft, since February 1988 for InfoWorld, Computerworld, Information Week, and PC World, as well as for Enterprise Developer, XML & Web Services, and .NET magazines.

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