LAS VEGAS—IBM is taking its strategy to woo developers to the IBM way into the classroom.
At its IBM Rational Software Developer Conference here Monday, IBM announced new initiatives to reach developers in the budding stages, as they learn skills in college and graduate school.
IBM officials said winning the hearts and minds of developers is key to winning software architecture leadership, and company officials said they believe the battle in the marketplace continues between the open standards camp, led by IBM, and the proprietary camp, led by Microsoft Corp.
As part of its strategy, IBM announced it will deliver free hardware, software, training and other resources to help students at the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas get up to speed with modern IT practices.
The effort is being run through the IBM Academic Initiative, and IBM and the university are working with companies in industries such as retail, electronics and transportation to prepare students for careers in IT in these industries.
Gina Poole, vice president of developer relations and the IBM Academic Initiative, said the initiative at the University of Arkansas is valued at $7 million this fiscal year, with a potential for renewal for four years valued at $1.2 million per year and will help Walton College students get acquainted with open standards-based technologies and open-source software.
The students will work on the Linux operating system, learn database management on IBMs DB2 database software and learn mainframe computing on an IBM zSeries eServer, Poole said.
“This collaboration with IBM is a landmark event that propels the Walton College into world-class caliber in the area of industrial-strength enterprise information technology,” said Fred Davis, professor and chair of the Walton College information systems department and David D. Glass Chair in Information Systems, in a statement. “The partnership also reaffirms IBMs commitment to the college and the firms who sponsor the Walton College Enterprise Systems Programs, including Datatronics, Dillards Inc., J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc., Tyson Foods, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and others.”
Also at the conference, IBM and Red Hat Inc. announced that they have teamed up to deliver Linux training to college students. The two companies said they are working with educators to teach students to master the Linux environment.
The IBM Academic Initiative and Red Hat Academy programs will work together to help develop curricula for students seeking learn skills for building open-source systems.
IBM also Monday announced a new academic curriculum to help improve innovation in the fastest growing part of the U.S. economy: services.
The new curriculum, available through the IBM Academic Initiative program, is called Services Sciences, Management and Engineering (SSME) and is targeted as a graduate-level curriculum, although it could be tailored for an undergraduate setting, IBM sources said. The course was developed via collaboration among IBM, universities, industry partners and government agencies.
The curriculum will use actual case studies of real businesses and scientific programs, particularly in information technology and business services, Poole said.
Indeed, the goal of IBMs initiative is to create a services sector that can develop and implement technological applications to help businesses, governments and other organizations improve what they do and tap into completely new areas of opportunity, Poole said.
This new field will bring together ongoing work in computer science, operations research, industrial engineering, business strategy, management sciences, social and cognitive sciences, and legal sciences, said Paul Horn, senior vice president and director of research at IBM, in an interview with eWEEK last year.
In an interview that occurred as IBM was working to develop a services science curriculum last year, Horn said: “Today services is like software was. Everyone says theres no intellectual property in services. There are no services guys in the IBM Academy, theres no discipline in a university called services, theres no services science. But its the biggest piece of the U.S. economy, but you cant take a course in it. Its one of those amazing things that weve got this huge sector and information technology can actually be hugely differential in services. “It can have an enormous effect. If you look at whats going on in the computer science department in a university, theres a lot of services going on in the graduate departments.”
He added: “So there are two communities, and the value is in the integration of information technology and business. And its right in between, but you never see that marriage. But I think theres just a huge, huge opportunity. … Weve got to go build the services practices of the future. We have to take a few of these micro-practices and really turn them into something special and unique.”
The universities involved include the University of California at Berkeley, Stanford University, Northwestern University, Arizona State University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and Georgia Institute of Technology, IBM said.
“University curricula have simply failed to keep pace with the rise of services in the U.S. and other major advanced economies,” said Henry Chesbrough, a professor at the Haas Business School at the University of California, Berkeley, in a statement. “IBMs initiative provides a crucial impetus for a more systematic approach to research and teaching in services, which will play a vital role in getting universities to overcome their academic disciplinary boundaries that were created in a bygone era.”
For its part, Microsoft also has been going after developers in the academic setting, with programs like the Imagine Cup competition, which rewards college students for innovative software design. Morris Sim, senior director of the Academic and Developer Community Group in the Servers and Tools Division at Microsoft, oversees this project and others related to tapping developer resources in the schools.