IBM Promotes Rational/Tivoli Bridge To Link App Dev, Operations, Business

IBM unveiled two tools to link Tivoli operations management and Rational development tools.
On Monday, IBM unveiled tools aimed at bridging the worlds of business demands, IT operations and application development—at least within IBM's own infrastructure.

The first, IBM Problem Resolution Toolkit For Rational Application Developer "lets you take the defects and problems you've found on the operations side and solve them on the development side," said David West, group manager for IBM's industry solutions team told CRN.

Basically, the toolkit opens up the logging mechanism in Tivoli's monitoring and transaction processing software to the application development side of the house. The software is a free download from IBM's developerworks site.

Secondly, IBM execs demonstrated an updated Rational Portfolio Manager, that claims to give business execs a real-time portal into the innards of their IT systems. This offering uses technology IBM acquired earlier when it bought Systemcorp.

"These process plug-ins—Rational unified process templates mean you can now develop Rational software and have executive views into the business process. That helps break down the wall between management decision making and development," West said.

"Say it was 3 a.m. and a transaction took four hours. This will show you what happened,",West said

Melinda Ballou, principal with consultant Ballou IT Strategies, Bedford, Mass., says vendors need to break down these stovepipes. "It's extremely useful for users to take information typically locked into operational systems for development. One of the biggest challenges is the chasm between developers and operations. The hand off tends to be terrible," she noted.

She said IBM is exposing more of its in-house autonomic computing capabilities in the hope of gaining business.

"For VARs, integrators and resellers who often deal with systems they didn't create, this provides a window into what's going on and the ability to analyze problems and address them," she noted.

Skeptics say IBM is merely lashing together disparate parts of its own, often confusing, software empire.

But West said because the Rational toolset is now built atop the Eclipse framework, there is ample room for similar integration between it and third-party system management offerings from Hewlett-Packard, Computer Associates and others.

Bringing operational IT processes to the light is a huge thrust now. SAP last week unveiled its own platform initiative and announced plans with Microsoft to jointly develop and sell products to link back-end ERP systems and front-end Microsoft Office applications, for example. Microsoft, on its own, is also working on a realtime reporting/scorecarding 'Maestro' server to expose operational data to users.

Some said the difficulty IBM is having building and explaining its roadmap may highlight the inherent advantages of Microsoft's self-touted "integrated stack."

Richard Warren, enterprise solutions architect for MicroLink, LLC, a Vienna, Va.-based solution provider in the Microsoft camp said IBM has much work to do in this effort.

What IBM is doing "is piecemeal compared to the Microsoft approach, " Warren maintained. "Visual Studio 2005 will put the testing and even the performance and operations management pieces into a separate, but integrated component of the yet-to-be-released IDE. The Visual Studio 2005 Team Tester Edition is a full citizen in the development and project management Team Suite while the approach taken by IBM is decidedly add-on in both architecture and strategy," he noted.

He said IBM's move is valid for large, multi-platform, global enterprises but Microsoft's plan is "more cost effective, efficient, comprehensive, and integrated by design. Absolutely, and for most enterprises, more than enough going forward--and at a faster pace than IBM with or without Rational."

IBM bought Rational, the leader in enterprise development tools and methodologies, two years ago and has since put its tools strategy under Rational's imprimatur. This week's news came out of the Annual Rational Users Conference in Las Vegas.

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