IBM Rational`s Lee Nackman Talks Jazz

Jazz will become more open as Rational incorporates feedback from customers.  

ORLANDO, Fla.-IBM is slated to officially announce the particulars around its community effort for building out its Jazz collaborative software development framework and related tools on June 12 at the Rational Software Development Conference here. Lee Nackman, vice president of Rational product development and customer support, sat down with eWEEK Senior Editor Darryl K. Taft to talk about Jazz and related issues.

How much work left is there to do on Jazz? And can you identify a timeframe for when you think youll be done?

I dont know what "done" means. I envision that Jazz is something that will get a lot of market acceptance as we introduce Jazz-based products. And that well introduce more products based on Jazz and that well infuse some of the capabilities that Jazz provides into our existing products. And thats a multiyear kind of process. The other thing is that any kind of infrastructure product has to mature. And that takes time.

I see this as a many year effort. I really dont see us as ever being "done." At some point well be relatively mature. But we have work to get there.

Well, what stage would you say youre at now? What percentage of "doneness" are you at?

I cant answer a question like that because I dont know what "doneness" is. But let me tell you where I see us. Clearly we have given compelling demos in a number of places in the past. And I think there will be some compelling demos at this conference. The big milestone at this conference with respect to Jazz is that weve announced the beta of a product based on Jazz. We expect that this is the first beta of a sequence of betas because we are doing this as an iterative kind of development process. So therell be a sequence of betas that will ultimately culminate in product delivery. Im not going to give a firm date, but youll see that happen next year.

So that gives you some sense of doneness, if you will.


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In terms of acceptance of Jazz, what do you anticipate from not just the user community, but also partners and the industry at large?

Theres a lot of interest and excitement about Jazz. And I think that as we open to more people, Im hoping well see much more interest. Because therell be much more they can do with it.

What do you have to do to join

All Rational customers will be able to join So if you own a Rational product you can join. If youre attending this conference you can join. And then there are selected partners and academics that will also join.

Over time, we will make it broadly open. But right now were starting with a more constrained access.

"Over time, broadly open" means what?

Ultimately we want anybody who wants to participate in this community to be able to do so.

Whats the reason for that? You want to do it in a phased approach or you want to hear from the folks youre closest to first?

First of all, we want our customers to be able to be completely aware of what were doing and see how it unfolds. So one of the benefits of being a Rational customer is being more in partnership with us than random people are. Another aspect is we want to phase this. We want to get some reaction, and we want to respond to that reaction and steer our course depending on that reaction. And you dont want to be in a situation where youre being overwhelmed. You want to do it in a staged way.

It sounds sort of like Microsofts Shared Source initiative, where they only share stuff with close partners or select people. Why not just put it out there?

Im not really familiar with the details of what they do. We are putting it out there; were doing it in a phased approach.

Thats what I meant. Why not just throw it out to the wolves and see what happens?

Thats not what were choosing to do.

Is there a role for Eclipse Foundation in the Jazz community effort? Do you intend to use them in any way?

We continue to be very enthusiastic supporters of the Eclipse Foundation. And we intend to continue to be very enthusiastic supporters of the Eclipse Foundation.

Clearly, we think that Jazz will be of great interest to people who use Eclipse. So we would like to see there be a close relationship between Eclipse users and the Jazz community.

But no plans to call on the Foundation to run the effort for you or anything like that?

No, we dont have any plans like that.

So who will run it?

This is a community that were going to be running.

Sounds like the JCP [Java Community Process].

No, I think its very different than that. This is a community that were going to be doing the development of commercial products out in the open. And people will be able to participate in that kind of development of commercial products, as well as development of the platform itself.

This is something of a big bet on IBMs part, and somewhat risky.

Its an attempt to drive a tremendous amount of innovation into whats happening in the software development space. So in that sense, yes, its a very big bet.

We innovated in a tremendous way with Eclipse. And were innovating again with Jazz. Whenever you do innovation theres risk involved.


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You said Jazz is like a middleware layer for building collaborative tools. Can you expand on that?

The way that I like to think of it is that the Jazz platform provides a middleware layer for software development and delivery. And so the way that thats related to the ESB idea is things happen and notifications need to happen. So somebody might create some sort of a work item, and somebody might be subscribed to a feed for those kinds of work items. And how does that get transported?

The nice thing for us that there is so much good collaboration technology, things like RSS feeds, that exist now that we can just exploit.

How long has Jazz been in the works? I know it was originally a research project.

Rational has been working on Jazz for a couple of years.

I thought that initially there was a Lotus connection?

There was initially some research effort that was done by some people who were originally in Lotus and who moved into research.

But one of the great opportunities we have is to be able to take advantage of various middleware that IBM has. So while its true that the Jazz platform can run on open-source middleware like Tomcat, you get much more scalability when you run it on WebSphere or when we run it on DB2. We integrate with Sametime to support various kinds of collaboration capabilities. So being able to use some of the rest of the IBM Software Group portfolio is quite an advantage.

The Team Concert product is in beta, can you talk about any other technologies we might soon see based on Jazz?

One of the things that were doing is weve started a number of incubator projects at And if we get the right kind of feedback on those they might evolve into products. So one of the things were working on is an agile requirements story authoring tool as an incubator. Another thing were working on is enhancements to Rational Method Composer so that it can be used to create process definitions that Jazz can enact for development teams.

Will we see Jazz components made into standards or offered up to standards bodies?

We will definitely take some parts of the Jazz kernel and over time open-source some of those as a way of establishing certain kinds of standards for protocols and the like.

So de facto standards?

Well, Im mostly concerned about using open source to do that. It might be appropriate to go through formal standardization for some things. But were not ready to make those decisions. I believe very strongly in the use of open source for that. I think a concrete implementation is always a faster way to get community built around something than just a standards body. Sometimes its preferable to do both.

So Jazz is applicable to more than just agile development?

The platform provides a middleware base that is applicable more broadly, absolutely.

The initial products are especially suitable for small to midsize agile development teams.

And that was because ...?

Its a very natural segment of the market where were not extremely strong, and it represents an opportunity for us.

As Jazz grows and generates its own ecosystem, do you see a potentially negative impact on the existing Eclipse ecosystem?

No, I dont.


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