Rational Digs Up Gems

Development projects should find a home in IBM research tools.

In the two months since closing its acquisition of Rational Software Corp., IBM has identified several gems from its Research division that promise to pay short- and long-term dividends for enterprise developers.

Following the merger, Rational Chief Scientist Grady Booch was assigned to serve as liaison between Rational and IBM Research. So far, hes identified nearly 300 projects that the company thinks will fit Rational tools.

Some of the first IBM Research projects that IBM wants to productize are in the areas of profiling, test prioritization and configuration management. Longer-term projects include the areas of architectural patterns and workbenches, so developers wont have to continually create the same architectures.

Further out, the Armonk, N.Y., company is eyeing "aspect-oriented programming" through an IBM Research project called hyperdimensional programming.

"There have been things weve been dreaming about doing that we simply havent had the resources," said Booch, in Lexington, Mass. "Now we discover there are some other people that have been doing some deep thinking in this space, and we can leverage ... that."

Rational also is looking to take advantage of IBM Research technology to develop and promote Web services standards and bridge the gap between platform issues. "Web services offer a new way to package component-based architectures," he said. "The .Net-versus-J2EE [Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition] choice becomes less onerous."

Steve Lasker, national director of research and development for Immedient Corp., in Dallas, and a Rational XDE user, said Rational will benefit substantially from its relationship with IBM Research, and "those benefits will undoubtedly trickle down to users."

"IBM is ... platform-agnostic. They also have the largest Microsoft [Corp.] consulting division, so it serves their interest to develop and evolve these tools. IBM Research could bolster other platforms and tools that might come into the Microsoft realm," Lasker said, noting that IBM could use its expertise to bring some of the more Java-oriented tools and techniques into the .Net realm for Microsoft developers to use.
Alfred Spector

Alfred Spector (pictured on left), vice president of services and software for IBM Research at the companys T.J. Watson Research Center, in Hawthorne, N.Y., said he has designated a pair of researchers to work with Booch to identify even more projects. One researcher is at the Watson center, and the other is at IBMs lab in Haifa, Israel, where the company works on program analysis and verification as well as other high-level programming technologies.

"They work to determine research that is valuable to Rational, and there was a heck of a lot of it. Were pursuing how we can get those things into the product strategy of Rational," said Spector. "I have a matrix, a spreadsheet that we maintain that says for software group, for the application and integration middleware business, for the database business, for Lotus, Tivoli, and now for Rational."

Spector described examples of the contributions of IBM Research to IBMs Software Group and to the industry at large, including SQL, XML Query and transformation standards, Web services standards, and initiatives such as Simple Object Access Protocol and Web Services Description Language.

Latest IBM News:

Search for more stories by Darryl Taft.