IBM to Employ Open-Source Development Style for Tools

The company says it will use an open-source-like development scheme for its "Jazz" collaboration platform that will provide a transparent environment for outside developers to directly impact IBM commercial software.

ORLANDO, Fla.—IBM plans to launch a new development scheme patterned after open-source initiatives for one of its upcoming commercial offerings.

At the IBM Rational Software Development Conference here on June 6, Lee Nackman, vice president of product development and customer support for IBM Rational, said that IBM will open-source a core portion of its upcoming "Jazz" collaboration platform and then build commercial software on top of that.

The open-source-like development scheme is known as "Open Commercial Development," Nackman said.

The Jazz collaboration and governance platform will facilitate seamless integration across all the phases of application development and deployment, Nackman said.

/zimages/3/28571.gifClick here to read more about "Jazz."

"A very important part of what we want to do with Jazz is establish an ecosystem around it," Nackman said.

"Were going to take the core infrastructure of Jazz and make that open source, and Rational will build tools on top," he said, adding that Rational also hopes to foster an ecosystem of partners that will provide additional capability in the form of supporting software.

"Were going to develop the Rational tools in what we call Open Commercial Development," Nackman said. "Well have complete transparency in what well develop with Jazz."

IBM already employs a development process known as Community Source, which the company defines as a collaborative, internal, open-source-style environment for developing and testing new technology. But Community Development is targeted at internal IBM developers who act like open-source committers and participate in the development of IBM projects.

And more than 30 of the Community Source projects have produced code that has found its way into IBM products such as WebSphere Application Server, WebSphere Business Integration Server, IBM Lotus Workplace, IBM Rational Application Developer, Rational Web Developer and some Tivoli offerings, Danny Sabbah, general manager of IBM Rational, told eWEEK last year.

However, the Open Commercial Development scheme will be different in that it will enable developers outside of IBMs corporate environment and firewalls to scrutinize the code being developed and to have input on its direction and final outcome, Nackman said.

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The new development style will be initially for the Jazz tools, but could become a way of life for IBM Rational, Nackman said.

"Well, its [Open Commercial Development] going to be for Jazz to start with," he said. "Its an innovative kind of thing and were going to see how it goes and see what kind of feedback we get. Then were going to make some decisions about where we want to take it after that."

However, IBM will gain all the benefits of transparency, Nackman said. "And that will improve the quality of software," he said. "Its going to be open in that people will be able to participate in the design discussions, theyll be able to contribute bug reports, theyll be able to look at the source code, etc.," Nackman said in an interview.

"We want to work in a transparent way with the community," said John Wiegand, an IBM distinguished engineer who is involved with the Jazz project. Wiegand spoke at a birds-of-a-feather session about Jazz that had interested developers standing in the aisles and watching monitors outside the packed ballroom where the event took place.

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