IBM Wednesday announced that it will ship the latest version of its Rational tools suite, the new IBM Software Development Platform code-named Atlantic, by the end of this quarter.
Having previewed the Atlantic tool set at its Rational User Conference in July in Dallas, IBM has now unveiled the core of the system that Mike Devlin, general manager of the Rational business unit at IBM, called "probably the biggest thing weve done in five years," in an interview with eWEEK.
Atlantic "really implements the vision we had when we did the acquisition," said Devlin, who was the CEO of Rational Software Corp. when IBM acquired the company in February 2003.
Atlantic features advanced modeling and design capabilities as well as team development and business process integration and management functionality, the company said.
"What this announcement is all about is the critical next phase in being able to architect and design sophisticated applications for the enterprise," said Steve Mills, senior vice president and group executive for IBM Software, in an interview with eWEEK.
Mills called Atlantic "the most comprehensive and most integrated tool set" IBM has developed and said it is "a result of the last 18 months of work between the Rational and IBM teams."
Atlantic features support for UML (Unified Modeling Language) 2.0 as well as the SDO (Service Data Objects) specification developed by IBM and BEA Systems Inc., Devlin said.
The new tool set also supports the latest release of the Eclipse open-source development platform, Eclipse 3.0, which offers many ease-of-use features, including a simplified user interface, he said.
Meanwhile, IBM is improving its design and development capabilities with technology such as JavaServer Faces, SDO, and UML 2.0 for automated modeling support, as well as visual re-factoring and integration with the Eclipse-based Hyades test, trace and monitoring environment.
In addition, the Atlantic suite delivers even greater integration between the various components in the Rational tools suite—many of which came from various acquisitions over the years—because of its underlying common component architecture, Devlin said.
"So we really have a higher integration and software architecture, and its an integration that exists across Software Group," Devlin said.
New features include the IBM Rational Portfolio Manager, for planning and managing IT projects; the IBM Rational Software Architect design and development tool; the UML 2.0-based IBM Rational Software Modeler; and the IBM Rational Manual Tester. Other new testing tools in the suite include the IBM Rational Functional Tester and the IBM Rational Performance Tester. In addition, IBM enhanced the suites configuration management capabilities.
Devlin said that while IBM is shipping its tool set this quarter, Microsoft Corp., which announced an emerging rival to the Rational application lifecycle management tools suite last May in the form of its Visual Studio Team System, will not ship its new tool set until mid-2005.
Meanwhile, Borland Software Corp., which markets its own application lifecycle management suite, says its offerings give users more choice as they support heterogeneous environments, whereas IBMs have a Java bias and Microsofts only support the companys own .Net environment.
"IBMs news validates our Software Delivery Optimization vision in that it seeks to align business objectives with application development," said Boz Elloy, senior vice president of software products at Borland, in Scotts Valley, Calif.
"However, we must keep in mind that the needs of software teams vary across companies and between projects. This is why Borlands approach and solutions embrace not only customer choice but better address the heterogeneous nature of todays enterprises. In the end its about delivering our customers better business value for their software, not building a bigger blue."
Pricing for the IBM tools ranges from $1,500 to $5,500 and all tools will be available by December 31, company officials said.
In addition, IBM announced a "Ready for IBM Rational Software" initiative to validate partner offerings that integrate with the Atlantic suite.