That allows real world results from a production system to find their way back to developers, who need the feedback on how their creation is actually running. It also allows them to fix problems that show up under production conditions.
But IBM isn't the only one trying to tie feedback from the operations side of the house back into development. Borland's
Application Lifecycle Management approach is committed to improving the "go live" phase of new software by passing along better communication from developers to operations people as they implement a new application. Often times, developers have a specific configuration in mind but they communicate the details only haltingly--let's say buried in the documentation--to the operations staff.
Microsoft is also beginning to emphasize what happens to software in production. It came out with a Go-Live License in mid-April that lets Beta 2 users of Visual Studio 2005 use the new applications in production. There's an express ban on use in production in the Beta 2 license, but now it can be overridden with the Go-Live option, if users sign up for it. That gives Visual Studio 2005 early adopters more leeway to find out how their applications will actually perform in production.
There's still a long ways to go but help is on the way.