Service-oriented architecture (SOA) is changing the way developers work and IBM Rational is responding with an attempt to bring the collaborative community approach of open source to the development of commercial tools through its Jazz project.
"Jazz is an open commercial community," said Dave Locke, director for IBM Rational worldwide marketing strategy, in an interview on the eve of the opening of this week's IBM Rational Software Development Conference in Orland, Fla. The expanding role of the Jazz community in the creation of tools for SOA development is being highlighted at the conference. Jazz is IBM Rational response to the way SOA, which is a collaborative approach itself, is changing the software world, according to Locke.
"There are highly distributed teams forming up around the world," he explained. "The business analysts may be here in the U.S. The architecture management is in Europe, but also the programming is being done in India."
Available vendor tools, such as IBM Rational ClearCase, can handle the basics of keeping track of who checks out what code and maintaining the versioning, Locke said, but the next generation tools that the Jazz project is expected to create will aim at providing real-time collaboration of geographically dispersed project teams through things like embedding instant messaging technology into development tools, he explained.
Locke said Jazz is intended to answer the question: "How do I get that collaboration going? There's multiple layers to collaboration. IBM Rational ClearCase is good at versioning, branching, managing artifacts. It keeps code in synch so you can check it out in California and I can check it out in Colorado. How do you merge that back together and keep it in synch when our co-workers over in India are going to be checking it out later tonight? ClearCase is really good at that, but what it's not good at doing is real-time connecting you and I together. It's good at checking code out and checking it back in and merging. But how do we comment? How do we work closer on a given module when we're on the same team?"
Taking the view that creating collaboration tools requires a collaborative effort, Jazz is an attempt to move away from the traditional way vendors, including IBM, have created tools for developers, Locke said.
Explaining how the old vendor paradigm worked, he said: "We go out to talk to customers, get feedback on what's working and not working for people. We innovate and look at competitors. Then inside the firewall behind closed doors, we go off and develop the next version. That's how software vendors work."
Jazz aims to be as different from that tradition as Bix Beiderbecke is from Beethoven.
"What Jazz does is open up the kimono," Locke said. "Our goal is to open it up so our customers, partners, interested parties can contribute to helping us develop the next version of software delivery tools."
The Jazz Web community will be as open as any in open source, he said. However, the major difference will be that what is developed there will be commercial products.
"In effect, Jazz is opening up the lab to our customers and partners, so they can participate and engage with us. They'll see the source code. They'll see the defects. They can download versions. They can see the architecture. They can contribute to it through commentary and code. The end goal is for the next generation of IBM Rational products to be fully commercial, but the change is the whole notion of open commercial is that we're opening the lab up so people can help contribute to creating the next generation of development products."
To jump-start the collaborative development process at Jazz.net, IBM has posted the first incubator project focused on defining requirements management in agile software development projects, Locke said.