With this week's launch of the IBM Rational Method Composer, IBM is shifting the focus of the Rational Unified Process (RUP) from the individual project to enterprise-level, business-driven development, according to Per Kroll, manager of methods for IBM Rational Software. IBM Rational Method Composer includes and extends RUP, adding new best practices from IBM in portfolio management, collaborative distributed development and service-oriented architecture (SOA).
It also replaces the IBM Rational Process Workbench with new process customization tools that will be based on open source. In addition, project managers will now be able to automatically send project plan templates directly to IBM Rational Portfolio Manager.
Kroll said IBM Rational Method Composer "will cover a broader set of projects, will improve the ability companies have to deal with cross-project issues and couple IT projects to business to get better collaboration between business and IT teams. As IT becomes crucial for how to run the business, you need those teams working together."
Kroll said IBM Rational Method Composer is emphasizing four things: describing how to capture, approve and simulate business processes; improving and validating the business processes; managing a variety of processes; and effectively executing the processes. Included are new process tools for customizing best practices, including process guidance wizards. There are also new tools for automating the capture of best practices for reuse on other projects.
With the new integration with Rational Portfolio Manager, "you not only can integrate with development tools, but [Rational Method Composer] allows you to bring over the process content to Portfolio Manager and execute it. With RUP you had to manually construct the templates in Portfolio Manager," Kroll said.
In addition, IBM Rational Method Composer includes an open, Eclipse-based platform that delivers RUP and IBM Rational Summit Ascendant's library of best practices. "RUP is how we still recommend people development software, but we're incorporating more methods than just RUP," Kross said. "We're incorporating aspects of the Summit process; down the road there might be others."
"Rational Method Composer is great news for RUP customers," said Liz Barnett, a vice president at Forrester Research Inc., Cambridge, Mass. "For me, the big win is in the tooling."
Rational Method Composer, she said, "is a completely new product for authoring processes and customizing the RUP content. The old UML [Unified Modeling Language]-based authoring tool, Rational Process Workbench, was very cumbersome to use. This new forms-based tool is tremendously easier and will now make it possible for customers, especially systems integrators and firms with their own custom methodologies, to make their methodologies available to all of their staff. There's also new content in the RUP framework."
Kroll said the RUP Plug-In for SOA V1.0, for example, is now bundled in with Rational Method Composer. "Today, there is more guidance in RUP around SOA than other commercial processes," he said, "and you will see more coming out down the road."
IBM Rational Method Composer is $395 per user, and will be available before the end of 2005. IBM is offering migration tools to existing RUP customers, who are eligible for an equivalent number of IBM Rational Method Composer licenses at no charge.
The Rational Method Composer announcement comes on the heels of IBM's proposed donation of a subset of RUP to the Eclipse Foundation, and a project to develop an open industry process framework, code-named Beacon.
"When you use the open source process, you get a great starting point. When organizations find that open source content is not enough, they can get a commercial offering that seamlessly extends it with a lot of additional guidance and additional tool capabilities," Kroll said.
The open source project has the potential to drive innovation for RUP users, Kroll said. For example, IBM has lined up some partners interested in working with the Beacon project around Scrum, an agile development methodology. "The basic unified process maps to many key Scrum processes," Kroll said. "We've had a number of people express interest in helping us to get this right. As we come out with the first version of Beacon, there will be a seamless upgrade to the commercial process [Rational Method Composer]. So if you want to use a Scrum-based management process with RUP, you'll get guidance on doing that as Beacon evolves."