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IBM Expands Rational Tools Lineup With Experimental Portal Development

Rational Team Concert aims to let members of a team dispersed around the world check their joint progress on a project, check the number of bugs and rate of bug fixes, and report in on their own work.
IBM at its recently concluded Rational developer conference in Orlando, Fla., unveiled a preproduct, beta version of portal software for collaborative development called Rational Team Concert.

By using Team Concert, members of a team dispersed around the world one day should be able to check their joint progress on a project, check the number of bugs and rate of bug fixes, and report in on their own work. It also is designed to let them consult requirements and review documentation.

So Team Concert is slated to be added one day to the IBM Rational Software Division's product lineup. But right now, IBM would like a select group of developers to experiment with the portal's rudimentary elements and comment on how they work. In other words, the early users will help drive the development of the collaborative product.

The 2,700 attendees of the Orlando conference are among the developers eligible to test drive Team Concert and will form the backbone of IBM's Jazz.net community, a commercial community that will mimic in many ways the activities of an open source code project.

Scott Hebner, IBM's VP of strategy for the Rational tools unit, said in an interview that Jazz.net members "get access to Rational Team Concert and five or six incubators that are out there like seedlings," where new tools are under experimental development.

It's an attempt by IBM to gain greater tool developer involvement in the Rational product line's future, through more open-ended and participatory processes, Hebner said.

In addition, IBM announced that Rational Asset Manager version 7.0, aimed at giving greater visibility into and knowledge of an enterprise's software assets, will be available June 29. Asset Manager acts as a registry of intelligence on the design, development, and deployment of software assets and can capture source code, patterns, and tests used to produce it. The product is designed to let developers outside the immediate team know about an asset and avoid regenerating it on another project.

IBM also brought out Rational ClearCase 7.01 for controlling the assets used in building software by distributed teams. It imposes location-based security and ensures that the members of the team in a given location have access only to the code they're supposed to be working with.

IBM upgraded Rational Portfolio Manager 7.1, which allows individual developers to submit time and expense reports remotely and manage their work with Ajax-based interactive elements communicating with a central server, Hebner said. IBM's acquisition of Telelogic, announced during its Rational user conference, will help it plug a hole in its Rational tools product line, said Ovum analyst Bola Rotibi. IBM needed a stronger enterprise architecture tool and got it in Telelogic's System Architect.

Telelogic, a Swedish company, is a supplier of high-end development tools to aerospace, automotive, and defense industries, and IBM will gain strength in embedded software development. Rational software testing tools have tended to be weaker than HP/Mercury's, Compuware's, or Borland's, and IBM gains strengths in that area as well, Rotibi said.

With its Team Concert approach, IBM will face competition from a startup, CollabNet, that has produced a Web-based project management and tracking system and is the chief sponsor of Subversion, a popular change management system governing many open source projects.