Software // Enterprise Applications
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6/8/2011
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IBM Offers Students Free Cloud For Application Development

JazzHub offers tools to help developers understand how to collaborate to build apps for the smart products and devices that are driving new levels of software design complexity.

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IBM launched a new initiative at its Innovate2011 conference this week to bring more students into the world of collaborative software development. IBM's JazzHub, a free cloud-based software development service, is aimed at bringing IBM's Jazz development environment to higher education environments.

According to IBM officials, the proliferation of smart products and devices is driving new levels of software design complexity. The demand for software development and engineering skills is expected to grow significantly, as evidenced by the U.S. Department of Labor In its 2010 Career Guide to Industries that predicts that computer systems design and related professions will add about 656,400 jobs, and realize a 21% increase over the next decade, placing it among the top growth professions.

In anticipation of that demand, IBM is looking to fuel a paradigm shift in the software development process by equipping educational entities with JazzHub and other new collaborative software tools as well as projects to equip software development teams with the knowledge to effectively build highly complex and intelligent applications.

IBM's initiatives include the creation of three new communities aimed at enabling diverse development teams to work more efficiently. The tools associated with those communities are geared towards facilitating innovation across dispersed team, allowing them to build software design skills that favor the collaborative software development process.

IBM hopes providing the technology behind JazzHub to educational institutions will help to shift how future developers are educated and taught how to work in large, cloud-based development teams. The key technology offered by IBM is Rational Team Concert, a tool that uses social networking concepts to build applications by incorporating tracking, work-item tracking, source control management, continuous builds, iteration planning, and highly configurable process support into a single tool that favors interaction between users.

JazzHub enables university teams to develop directly on IBM's Jazz.net website at no cost and serves as an open ecosystem for students to build new and innovative software applications. Registered university teams can begin development in under a minute, and use the Jazz.net project dashboards to evaluate the status of the project, IBM said. JazzHub is powered by IBM Rational Team Concert, a team-based development solution for both traditional and agile planning, and gives software and systems engineering students an ecosystem with tools that make software development and deployment a social experience, IBM said in a release describing the initiative.

During a panel discussion hosted at the Innovate2011 event, Gina Poole, panel moderator and vice president for marketing at IBM Rational, said, "Colleges and other higher education entities are the breeding ground for new ideas and concepts, by encouraging collaboration during group projects, quality, speed and cooperation all increase, while advancing education."

The primary theme the panel focused on is that a new way of thinking and collaboration is needed to develop increasingly complex application development projects, and that the next generation of programmers and developers will need new skill sets and collaborative understanding to be able to develop the next generation of applications.

It's obvious that IBM hopes that by encouraging a paradigm shift in development practices that such a shift also will lead to adoption of the company's tools, such as Jazz, Rational, and others. Leveraging the education market should prove to be a good way for IBM to seed a paradigm shift, by focusing on teaching the next generation of programmers new skills and different ways of collaboration.

Aditi Mukherjee, a panel member and a lecturer at the University of Florida, said, "Teaching students new ways to visualize application development has always been a challenge. Jazz.net has enhanced collaboration and proves to be an important tool for shifting how students think about building applications and interacting with team members."

IBM touts Ration Team Concert as an extensible platform for collaboration and offers SDKs, partner plugins, and other configuration and add-on elements that allow users to tune the platform to meet their specific needs.

"Collaborative development leads to improved applications with higher quality and improved functionality," according to Dan Griffin, a manager for Jazz.net at IBM Rational. "That pretty much sums up the importance of developing new methodologies and team interaction for advanced software development projects."

Employees have more ways to communicate than ever, but until the mishmash of tools gets integrated, productivity will suffer. Also in the new, all-digital issue of InformationWeek: A buyer's guide to enterprise social networking. Download it now. (Free registration required.)

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