The arrival of the IBM WebSphere Application Server 6.1 presents Eclipse-oriented developers with some big decisions. The newest version of this popular runtime will depend largely on Rational Application Developer (RAD) for tooling.
While this recent runtime environment release is designed to ease implementations into Services Oriented Architecture (SOA) and improve speed for Web services, the required Rational toolset -- formerly known as the WebSphere Studio Application Developer -- comes with a significant price tag and some weighty developer adjustments.
Genuitec, however, is now delivering MyEclipse Blue Edition as an alternative upgrade path for tools as enterprise architects and operators begin to adjust to these major new releases from IBM. MyEclipse Blue Edition is not competing with IBM as much as catering to an under-served market of people that may not be able to afford the quick and full Rational tool adjustment, says Genuitec.
And so Genuitec, the company behind the MyEclipse IDE, is offering a stepping-stone approach to help with this WebSphere environment tools transition. To help understand this transition, the market, and the products, I recently moderated a sponsored podcast discussion with with James Governor, a co-founder and industry analyst at RedMonk, as well as Maher Masri, president of Genuitec.
Here are some excerpts:
The economics around tools have shifted dramatically. It seems that the value add is not so much in the IDE now, but in building bridges across environments, making framework choices easier for developers, and finding ways of mitigating some of these complexity issues, when it comes to the transition on the platform side.
Eclipse obviously has become the default standard for the development environment and for building tools on top of it. I don’t think you need to go very far to find the numbers that support those kinds of claims, and those numbers continue to increase on a year-to-year basis around the globe.
When it started, it started not as a one-company project, but a true consortium model, a foundation that includes companies that compete against each other and companies in different spaces, growing in the number of projects and trying to maintain a level of quality that people can build upon to provide software on top of it from a tools standpoint.
A lot of people forget that Eclipse is not just a tools platform. It's actually an application framework. So it could be, as we describe it internally, a floor wax and a dessert topping.
The ability for it to become that mother board for applications in the future makes it possible for it to move above and beyond a tools platform into what a lot of companies already use it for -- a runtime equation.
IBM was the company that led the way for all of the IBM WebSphere implementations and many of their internal implementations. A lot of technologies are now based on Eclipse and based on the Eclipse runtime.
Customers tell us ... "I am moving into 6.1, and the reason for that is I am re-implementing or have a revival internally for Web services, SOA, rich-net applications, and data persistence requirements that are evolving out of the evolution of the technology in the broader space, and specifically as implemented into the new technology for 6.1."
Every one of them tells us exactly the same story. "I cannot use your Web service implementation because, a) I have to use this web services within WebSphere or I lose support, and b) I have invested quite a bit of money in my previous tools like WebSphere Application Developer (WSAD), and that is no longer supported now.
"I have to transition into, not only a runtime requirement, but also a tools requirement." With that comes a very nice price tag that not only requires them to retool their development and their engineers, but also reinvest into that technology.
But the killer for almost all of them is, "I have to start from scratch, in the sense that every project that I have created historically, my legacy model. I can no longer support that because of the different project model that’s inside."
From an IBM perspective, it’s a classic case of kind of running ahead of the stack. If you see the commoditization further down the stack, you want to move on up. So IBM looks at the application developer role and the application development function and thinks to itself, "Hang on a second. We really need to be moving up in terms of the value, so we can charge a fair amount of money for our software," or what they see is a fair amount of money.
IBM’s strategy is very much to look at business process as opposed to the focus on just a technical innovation. That certainly explains some of the change that's being made. They want to drive an inflection point. They can't afford to see orders-of-magnitude cheaper software doing the same thing that their products do.
They are looking for life cycle approaches, ways of bridging design time and runtime. IBM is addressing some of these needs, but, as you point out, developers are often saying, "Hey, I just want my tool. I want to stick with what I know." So we’re left with a little bit of a disconnect.
We [at Genuitec] looked at the market. Our customers looked back at us and basically gave us the same input: "If you provide us this delta of functionalities, specifically speaking, if you’re able to make my life a little easier in terms of importing projects that exist inside of WebSphere Application Developer into your tool environment, if you can support the web services standard that’s provided by WebSphere.
" ... if you could provide a richer deployment model into WebSphere so my developers could feel as if they’re deploying it from within the IBM toolset, I don’t have the need to move outside of your toolset. I can continue to deploy, develop and run all my applications from a developer's standpoint, not from an administrator's."
There are companies that are always going to be a pure IBM shop and no one is going to be able to change their mind. The ability to provide choice is very important for those that need to make that decisions going forward, but they need some form of affordability to make that decision possible. I believe [Genuitec] provides that choice in spades in our current pricing model and our ability to continue to support without the additional premium above that.