IBM Research Is Software Groups Secret Weapon

IBM's Grady Booch identifies key areas where the research unit is helping Rational bring new technologies to life.

LAS VEGAS—IBM Research is IBMs secret weapon, and nowhere is this more evident than in software, said the chief scientist of IBMs Rational business unit.

Grady Booch, an IBM fellow and chief scientist at IBM Rational, on Tuesday called IBM Research Rationals secret weapon and went on to identify several key areas where the research unit is helping Rational bring new technologies to life.

For instance, IBM Research is working on an experimental collaborative development environment called Activity Spaces that deals with the social elements of the development space, Booch said in his keynote address at the IBM Rational Software Development Conference here.

The technology tells a developer who else is online, initiates instant messaging, and shows what has changed since the last time the developer came on, what has been done on projects and what has happened on other projects, among other things, Booch said.

"The next state change in the developer experience deals with exploiting automation for social collaboration for developers," Booch said.

Meanwhile, Booch said Rational and IBM Research are working on joint projects in the area of the Eclipse open-source development platform, model-driven development, automating software quality and enterprise change management. Booch, who also serves as IBM Rationals liaison to IBM Research, said Rational spends several million dollars annually on research and IBM Research matches the funding.

"We lean upon them to help us out in areas where we need to wildly innovate," Booch said. "Weve never had the luxury of a funded group, and they never had a catcher for all their software engineering-related research."

"When the acquisition of Rational was announced, it felt like we died and went to heaven," said Mark Wegman, director of software research at IBM Research.

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Wegman went on to describe key IBM Research projects such as the Architects Workbench, a tool to help developers glean what their customer is looking for in terms of requirements; Jazz, a collaborative tool for large numbers of developers; and LeakBot, a scalable tool for diagnosing memory leaks.

Meanwhile, Gina Poole, vice president of developer relations at IBM, said about 20 percent to 25 percent of the projects coming out of IBMs AlphaWorks emerging technologies Web site are software engineering-related.

In fact, IBM Tuesday announced new research topics and new technology on AlphaWorks and new resources on the IBM DeveloperWorks site, including new customizable RSS feeds for developers to tailor the way they get information, Wikis on emerging technologies, and on-demand demos.

For AlphaWorks, IBM also announced new research around visualization, including the IBM Web Services Navigator, an Eclipse-based IBM Rational Application Developer plug-in; a History Flow Visualization Application tool for visualizing documents and multiple authors; and the Spatiotemporal Epidemiological Modeler (STEM) tool for modeling infectious agents in the United States.

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Meanwhile, in the area of semantics, IBM announced for AlphaWorks an Unstructured Information Management Architecture SDK; a Web Metadata Extractor for extracting relevant information from Web pages; the IBM Ontology Management System and IBM Ontology Development Kit; and the Multimedia Analysis and Retrieval Engine (MARVEL), a desktop indexing and search system for digital images.

"Historically Rational has been focused on just the hardcore development side," Booch said. However, "were learning a great deal from IBM Global Services about where the tooling can reach out to the needs of business analysts and others. Were taking the best practices in the Rational Unified Process [RUP] and making them more real and actionable."

Booch said RUP "codifies the practices we have seen work in the real world."

In addition, as proof of its reliance on RUP, Booch said IBM uses it across the board in development situations. "We drink our own champagne," he said. "The boys in Redmond like to say we eat our own dog food. … I prefer to say we drink our own champagne."

And Booch said Rational has a RUP for an SOA (service-oriented architecture) process guidance scheme that features a framework with template deployment models for certain vertical markets.

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