Rational Users Give Thumbs Up

IBM's planned acquisition of toolmaker rational expected to benefit both companies.

While IBMs pending $2.1 billion acquisition of Rational Software Corp. stands to benefit both companies, customers of the smaller toolmaker appear optimistic about the pairing.

Chad Mason, director of quality assurance for Choice Hotels International Inc., in Phoenix, said he hopes the acquisition goes as smoothly and will be as beneficial to Choice Hotels as Rationals acquisition of SQA Software Inc. several years ago.

That acquisition has meant a boost in productivity for Choice Hotels developers, Mason said. Choice Hotels is based in Silver Spring, Md., with western headquarters and IT facilities in Phoenix.

"Weve been with Rational since they purchased the SQA suite of tools, and weve seen tremendous improvements in the tool set in the five years that Rational has had them," Mason said. "I hope the acquisition has no impact on Rational whatsoever because we have a fantastic relationship."

Rational announced its plans to acquire SQA in November 1996 in a $300 million deal. The SQA tools have become the heart of Rationals automated testing and quality assurance tools offerings.

Choice Hotels uses Rational tools to support its development of applications such as property management systems, plug-ins for PBXes, pay-per-view billing systems, reservations applications and the public Web site, among others. "We couldnt do business without the tools," Mason said. "They help us put out a better product."

Paul Grey, chief technology officer at Peace Software Inc., in Miami, said his 300-person development center uses Rationals tools for software configuration management and code maintenance.

Peace markets a single product called Energy, a customer information system for large utilities and electricity suppliers, Grey said.

"Were a Rational partner, and were also a strong partner with IBM on the hardware side. We also have ties to IBM Global Services and the middleware section of the IBM Software Group," Grey said. "To have two of our key partners combining and Rational becoming a part of the IBM Software Group is a positive."

Grey said Peace uses Rational ClearCase for software configuration management and ClearQuest for change management and maintenance. The company is also testing other Rational tools and RUP (Rational Unified Process), a software development life-cycle methodology.

"The Rational partnership is a key one for us," Grey said. "Our software development tool set is our mission-critical application, and the IBM acquisition will strengthen that."

Brian Lyons, chairman of Number Six Software Inc., a Roslyn, Va., development outsourcing company, said Number Six uses Rationals processes and techniques such as RUP and Unified Modeling Language.

Lyons said if his company "considered [themselves] strictly a consulting shop, we might look at all of IBM Global Services as a competitor."

Number Six won Rationals Best Complementary Services Award in 2000. "We apply the Rational practices and process and also use their tools," Lyons said.

Melissa Marquis, an application architect at NerveWire Inc., a Newton, Mass., systems integrator, Rational customer and development organization, said, "NerveWires concern and hope is that the Rational product suite will continue to address and pursue support of all development partners and platforms such as .Net from Microsoft [Corp.] and WebLogic from BEA [Systems Inc.] while tight- ening integration with IBMs product offering.

"It is critical that Rational tools stay committed to supporting software life-cycle methodologies rather than a particular implementation of an integrated development environment or platform. It appears that IBM does plan to honor the existing agreement between Microsoft and Rational, which is an encouraging sign."

After IBM, of Armonk, N.Y., and Rational, of Cupertino, Calif., announced plans for the acquisition last month, Rational CEO Mike Devlin told customers that Rational will continue to support Microsoft technologies, including .Net and the Visual Studio .Net development tool. Devlin said Rational plans to continue supporting all its existing products.