Despite Microsoft Corp.s plan to deliver a team-oriented version of its highly successful application development suite aimed at enterprise development, IBM believes its head start in the so-called applications lifecycle management arena will keep the software giant at bay.
In an interview prior to Microsofts TechEd 2004 announcement of its Visual Studio Team System, code-named Burton, Grady Booch, an IBM fellow and chief scientist of the IBM Rational division, said Rationals rich history in addressing the overall application lifecycle with features such as modeling support and team development support is second to none.
Although Microsoft is slated to announce its own team development system and has its own modeling technology, code-named Whitehorse, its applicability remains to be seen.
Said one source who asked not to be identified: “Come Monday, Micrososft will show the world why it didnt buy Rational.”
However, Booch said he is glad to see Microsoft moving to support modeling, although some sources have said the Redmond, Wash., company is looking at supporting modeling without supporting the Unified Modeling Language (UML), which is an emerging standard in this space.
Booch said he is “delighted to see Microsoft recognizing that modeling is an important thing. … Now we have different views of the world—no surprise there. Of course, were solidly behind the notion of UML and its open standard. Whereas it appears Microsoft has somewhat waffled on this position on it.”
As to whether he believes Microsofts actions are to counter what IBM is doing with Rational, Booch said: “Well, Im never going to try to second-guess whats in MS mind, but Rational certainly now is the place inside IBM that owns the tools strategy. And for IBM that means its not just about the IDE, which is very important; its also about all the other lifecycle tools that surround it. Software development is ultimately a team sport.”
Particularly, Booch said, a technology provider has to look at dealing with the developer experience and also deal with the team experience. “Thats the strategy Rational has been pursuing for some time,” he said. “And, in fact, as a partner with Microsoft, thats a lot of what we supplied to their customers. But now that were a part of IBM, I only have to believe that leaves a void in Microsofts strategy.”
Meanwhile, Booch said he took exception with a comment Microsoft chairman Bill Gates made in a recent eWEEK interview.
Said Gates: “Modeling is the future, so every company thats working on this I think its great, and I think there are some real contributions that can be made. You know UML made the meta-models a little complex, so I dont think UML alone is the answer.”
Replied Booch: “I think Bill said a few things about UML that I thought were a bit inaccurate. The notion of it having a complex meta-model and therefore the UML being complex … well, goodness, if you open up the plumbing of any operating systems or any technology, it just looks pretty ugly from the outside. And frankly the meta-model of the UML is something that is part of the plumbing of the UML.