IBM Donates Development Assets to Eclipse

The company hopes that the Rational Unified Process will help form a foundational architecture and provide Web-based tools for collaboration.

IBM Tuesday announced its plans to donate some of its strategic software development assets to the open-source community, in an effort to help organizations adopt and share best practices for building software.

IBM officials said the company will donate a subset of the IBM Rational Unified Process to the open-source community. RUP is a development methodology that comes out of IBM Software Groups Rational business unit. Grady Booch, an IBM fellow and Rationals chief scientist, said RUP is a vast collection of methods and best practices for promoting quality and efficiency throughout software development projects.

The company said more than half a million developers have used RUP in building systems ranging from small departmental systems to complex, mission-critical systems such as weapons systems and air traffic control applications.

IBM is planning to donate the RUP subset to the Eclipse Foundation, which IBM founded and spun out into an independent organization early last year. Booch said IBM hopes its donation will help form a foundational architecture and Web-based tools for the industry to engineer, collaborate on, share and reuse software development best practices.

Moreover, IBM said the move is to help promote "a collaborative, industry-wide effort to synthesize, share and automate development processes and best practices among independent software vendors, IT organizations building integrated software systems, academia, the research community and individual software professionals on small or large teams," according to a company description of the effort.

"This is a continuation of IBMs and Rationals commitment to the open source community," Booch said. "We have built an ecosystem around RUP and we want to expand that."

Booch, who co-authored the Unified Modeling Language, which can be considered a corollary language in support of RUP, said he and Jim Rumbaugh, another Rational software architect, were tasked with pursuing the development of the UML language and another IBM software architect, Philippe Kruchten (now a professor of computer science at the University of British Columbia), was tasked with heading up development of the methodology that became RUP. IBM soon hired another key architect, Ivar Jacobson, who became the third co-author of UML with Booch and Rumbaugh, although all three, and many others, had input into what is now RUP, Booch said.

"We knew we needed to disconnect the language from the process," so Booch et al worked on the language, "and Philippe did the process," Booch said.

IBM officials said about half of software development organizations have begun using process-related efforts to improve the governance and predictability of software projects, and the RUP subset donation is aimed at promoting an ecosystem around RUP.

Indeed, the inclusion of process-oriented expertise and guidance has begun to creep into the industry. Borland Software Corp., for one, has begun its own practice of offering not only process-oriented tools support, but also consulting and services. And Microsoft Corp. has said it will provide process templates with its upcoming Visual Studio 2005 Team System.

In January, Borland acquired TeraQuest Metrics Inc., an Austin, Texas, process optimization consultancy, and named TeraQuest co-founder Bill Curtis, co-author of the software Capability Maturity Model (CMM), as Borlands first chief process officer.

/zimages/3/28571.gifClick here to read about the growth of Eclipse.

"By contributing intellectual property to establish a common, open industry framework and ecosystem around software development, we hope to foster more innovation by encouraging developers everywhere to reuse assets," said Daniel Sabbah, general manager of IBM Rational Software, in a statement. "IBM is doing for the software development process what Eclipse has done for the integration of software tools, what Apache did for Web application servers and what Linux did for operating systems.

"Software practitioners at large companies, independent software vendors, systems integrators, and in government and academia will be able to collaborate more easily and drive better-managed and higher quality software projects," Sabbah said. "By rethinking software development practices to emphasize smarter processes and higher-quality outcomes, companies will reach new levels of innovation while obtaining productivity gains characteristic of an on-demand business."

A consortium of supporters is joining IBM in this RUP open source effort, including Capgemini, BearingPoint, Covansys, Jaczone, Number Six Software, Ivar Jacobson International, Armstrong Process Group and Ambysoft, as well as Unisys, NTT Comware, Sogeti and Wind River.

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