Microsoft Taps Former Rational Heavyweight to Lend Credence to Enterprise Tools Play

Microsoft taps Ivar Jacobson, one of the fathers of the popular Rational Unified Process, to lead an effort to deliver a lightweight unified process to the Microsoft Solutions Framework.

Download the authoritative guide:

In an effort to grow up fast in the enterprise application lifecycle tools space, Microsoft Corp. has called on the help of a father.

Microsoft has tapped Ivar Jacobson, known as one of the fathers of the popular Rational Unified Process (RUP), to lead an effort to deliver a lightweight unified process to the Microsoft Solutions Framework.

Microsoft Monday is expected to announce that Jacobsons Ivar Jacobson Consulting LLC, of Alexandria, Va., has joined the Visual Studio Industry Partner program and is part of the Visual Studio 2005 Team System (VSTS) ecosystem.

Jacobson said the first fruits of his companys relationship with Microsoft will be through the delivery of the Essential Unified Process (Essential UP), which is based on the Microsoft Solutions Framework and integrated with VSTS.

In short, Essential UP is a simplified or lighter-weight alternative to RUP, Jacobson said. Essential UP is an evolution of the unified process Jacobson helped create more than 10 years ago that forms the foundation of RUP, he said.

"I started the work on process many years ago in a company in Sweden called Objectory, and that process would eventually become RUP," Jacobson said. Rational Software, then an independent company, acquired Objectory, and Rational later was itself acquired by IBM.

"We need more lightweight processes," Jacobson said, noting that RUP has become too heavyweight and cumbersome. "We have competition from India, China and the former Soviet Union," he said. "It is not enough to be agile."

Indeed, Microsoft has done a good job with its Microsoft Solutions Framework, and "their process agility is a clear differentiator for them," Jacobson said.

"Essential UP stands on all the experience we have from RUP, but also offers us a chance to have a fresh start," Jacobson said. "We start in a new way because weve learned what works and what doesnt work."

/zimages/6/28571.gifDid Microsoft wait too long to ship Visual Studio 2005? Or did the it rush out the product before its time? Click here to read Mary Jo Foleys column.

Having worked on RUP in its formative stages, Jacobson likened it to a baby.

"RUP is one of my babies, and babies grow up, and some of them need correction," Jacobson said.

Microsoft and its industry-leading .Net development platform represent an attractive target for Jacobson, he said.

"The ideas of unified process have long roots and go back many years," Jacobson said. "What I want to do is make these ideas available to as many people as possible. … And we can do that on the Microsoft platform—a market-leading approach. Well be able to reach a lot of developers."

Jacobson said he has no intention of bashing RUP.

"RUP has a lot of good stuff, but it needs a correction," he said.

"First, I see RUP as raising the bar in many aspects. For instance, it is based on explicit knowledge and doesnt just rely on tacit knowledge," he said. It has a meta model that makes it possible to grow the process to cover all areas of software development, he added. And it has adopted a number of classical concepts that will stay for a very long time, he said.

However, among the primary problems Jacobson said he has with RUP is that it is "heavyweight."

Also, "the process architecture needs to be refactored," Jacobson said. "It is very difficult to add new practices because it will force a big change in the base. For instance, adding in a streamlined way practices such as EA [Enterprise Architect], SOA [service-oriented architecture], ABD [asset-based development], re-engineering legacy systems and commercial off-the-shelf software would be very difficult, if at all possible. So I believe in starting all over fresh but not throwing away anything that is good."

Microsoft views Jacobsons support as a major coup for the companys efforts to win enterprise developers.

"This is me putting my money where my mouth is, which is we will support many processes," said Rick LaPlante, general manager of Visual Studio Team System at Microsoft.

"A lot of the processes out there become so heavyweight that they become unusable," LaPlante said, referring mostly to UML (Unified Modeling Language), but also to other process models.

"Having an industry luminary build the next version of his tool for our platform is huge for us," LaPlante said.

Next Page: IBM donates RUP.