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A Sneak Peek at IBM's Jazz Collaboration App

By Dana Gardner LinuxInsider ECT News Network
May 22, 2007 4:00 AM PT

IBM helped the Eclipse Foundation score a huge hit with the Eclipse development framework and community. Now the software engineering target is even higher, but the methods and approaches are similar.

A Sneak Peek at IBM's Jazz Collaboration App

IBM in June will unveil details about its Jazz framework and community for automation and governance of complex, collaborative application development processes. IBM will make elements of the Jazz community open, as well as interlace new Rational, Lotus, WebSphere and Tivoli products with Jazz.

Jazz is an innovation technology project by IBM Rational and IBM Research designed to help globally and organizationally dispersed development teams automate more of the development and deployment lifecycle. The goal is to integrate and automate among many back-end aspects of development to provide real-time information for managing projects, including those for services-oriented architecture (SOA).

Not all the details on this major application lifecycle management update are out, but I had an in-depth interview on Jazz with Scott Hebner, the vice president for marketing and strategy for IBM Rational Software, that highlights the importance of Jazz for IBM, as well as a much larger development community and vendor ecosystem.


Listen to the discussion (37:53 minutes).

Here are some excerpts:

Scott Hebner: Jazz is a major investment by IBM to create an innovative, collaborative software development technology base. It will not only drive the evolution of our product for future years, but it's also going to drive the evolution of many elements of the marketplace.

Jazz is being brought to us by the team that helped to lead Eclipse. What they are trying to do now is automate the lessons of this proven, open-collaborative model that Eclipse represents. And so I think we have learned a lot about how to facilitate collaboration.

Eclipse did a lot on the client side, the user side, to integrate the desktop. You can think of Jazz as being a similar approach, but on the back end -- or the server side -- where the teams need to have the same ability to collaborate more effectively and to gain integration.

I think Tivoli is another important element here, in that, when we talk about lifecycle management in governance, that doesn't stop at the delivery of the software that flows into your operational state. And many of the change requests that get created actually occur in an operational setting -- from a user, for example. Right now there is a lot of labor cost associated with getting that change into the software development process, and to the requirements.

The more we can automate that and create collaboration that extends beyond just this core software development team, the more you can address labor costs and help customers in a broader notion of managing the lifecycle of their projects. And not only in delivering productions, but also in operations. Think of it as one massive lifecycle. This is the way it should be, right?

A part of the value of this technology is going to be greater collaboration and visibility into the process of software delivery. As I said before, you may have people that are part of broader teams in different time zones, different countries. They may be in different organizations in other companies that you are outsourcing to. And you want to be able to manage that as an integrated project, gain a lifecycle view of it. Then you will be able to manage it much more effectively, to get all those geographically distributed people in the projects to actually work together.

There is going to need to be some degree of hosting and Web access around Web 2.0 clients, or Eclipse clients, or whatever it may be. And if you think about that, in many ways it's almost an internal Software as a Service model.

Key Value Points

The idea here is that you have visibility and gain collaboration into the software development process. And so what are some of the key value points that this technology will provide to customers?

I'll tell you. The first one is that it will enable development teams to collaborate in real time, in the context of the work they are doing, and especially in globally diverse environments. The second thing is it enables projects to be managed more effectively by providing visibility into accurate, real-time project health information, effectively drawn from the actual work that's going on. Obviously, there is a lot of reporting that goes around that.

Building on that, it automates traceability and auditability by managing the artifacts and/or inter-relationships -- across the lifecycle, which, as I was saying before, empowers the teams to deliver more value. So you don't have to worry about managing auditability issues and traceability.

The system will do it for the development teams. And, finally, I think the final key piece of value here is that Jazz provides a customizable process design enactment, a kind of capability for rules-based process guidance. It becomes a lot easier to automate, to find check points. It allows you to enact processes that take on the unique characteristics of how a team has been operating. It kind of evolves and changes and learns from what works and what doesn't work. This is a very agile, real-time, collaborative kind of model.

I look at it sometimes and I think, Is this going to enable a developer portal? Is it going to enable a business-process engine for software delivery in lifecycle management? Or is it an integration infrastructure for the different products and services that make up what customers think of as lifecycle management?

The truth of the matter is that it's all three. It's not just a portal. It's not just a process engine. And it's not just integration infrastructure. I think it's really all three integrated together, optimized for software delivery in helping development teams collaborate more effectively. Again, keep in mind that Jazz is a technology infrastructure. It's a base of technology that will then be used to infuse new capabilities, new integration and new value into our current portfolio.


Dana Gardner is president and principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions, which tracks trends, delivers forecasts, and interprets the competitive landscape of enterprise applications and software infrastructure markets for clients. He also produces BriefingsDirect sponsored podcasts.

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