Strategies"> How does Rational play into IBMs on-demand strategy?
The definition of on demand is a business whose processes are integrated from end to end, connecting customers, employees and suppliers, and being able to adapt dynamically to marketplace changes and take advantage of opportunities or respond to threat. That definition is focused on business integration and business process integration.
And the Rational tools are the premier development environment for developing applications that span a company. They instantiate not only a process; [they] cant help providing linkage across processes. So the sophistication of the environment matches the characteristics of the on-demand world that we believe were moving into.
And we see the Rational tools as a very integral part of that strategy. We put a great deal of value on Rational. We made Rational one of our major brands. We moved development work into Rational to use it as the focal point for our application development tool, application design initiative. So we see it as a key asset as we try to meet the needs of businesses as they try to become on demand.
How does Rational play into IBMs vertical market push?
First of all, all of our customers sit within industries. So the need to apply technology toward industry needs is fundamental to more effectively serve the customer. Rational tools help us to create design patterns, instantiate those designs, reuse the designs. Clearly there are elements of application design that are shared across industry, and there are many application designs that are industry-unique.
It was their model of go-to-market. The Rational team had an industry focus as well.
How is Rational working with or benefiting IBM Global Services?
Well, there was already a relationship with Global Services prior to the acquisition. The Global Services practitioners have been using Rationals tools over the years. The acquisition of Rational obviously makes it more economical for Global Services to outfit itself with Rational tools.
As always with people out there practicing in the market, its more than just giving them a tool, particularly this class of tool; you have to train them on how to use the tools. And weve been doing that over the last year. And in various engagements weve had Rational-skilled people working with Global Services as part of project teams as a way to provide skills transfer.
You touched on something there when you said "this class of tool." Is there an effort to simplify the Rational tool set?
Well, theres always an effort to try to simplify things, but not to de-function or degrade. Were constantly investing in new features and new capability. Theres no lack in customer demand for more sophistication, not less sophistication. But along the way you have the phenomenon of making the technology more accessible and easier to utilize.
So youre applying techniques that abstract the interfaces, simplify the paradigm of use and try to make the tools more intuitive. So, no loss of sophistication, but try to make the tools a more intuitive environment, and thats an on-going thing.
We have lots of long-term plans for delivering ease-of-use, ease-of-training; "ease of" characteristics into the Rational portfolio.
Would you say IBM is as far along as, or maybe even ahead of, other companies in the quest to simplify Java? BEA and Sun are after this goal.
Well, Ive yet to meet a customer who wants less function or less scalability. So you have to put the notion of simplification in the context of other requirements they have.
We build technology that is designed to meet the needs of those that are trying to build sophisticated applications. And those require sophisticated tools. You cant build that class of application using something like a Microsoft Visual Basic.
So theres a need for sophisticated technologies in the market, and the challenge is how do you make them easier to use while still satisfying the final needs of the application. At the end of the day, if the tool is simple, but the application doesnt work right for the business, it doesnt matter. Youve wasted your time and money buying a simple tool that cant build what you need.