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What to expect from IBM Rational Software Developer Conference 2008

It's opening Sunday night down here in Orlando at IBM's 2008 Rational Software Developer Conference. Having attended and reported on this event since 2004 I thought I would be able to make a few predictions as to what the week ahead might hold.
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Written by Adrian Bridgwater on

It's opening Sunday night down here in Orlando at IBM's 2008 Rational Software Developer Conference. Having attended and reported on this event since 2004 I thought I would be able to make a few predictions as to what the week ahead might hold. But I don't think it's going to be as easy as I first thought, as IBM appears to have changed its tack slightly.

The last few years has seen this event running with tag-lines that have been somewhat similar in nature: 'Better software = better business' was followed by 'Software runs the world' and then we had 'Software in concert'. IBM clearly feels that it has got the 'business must connect with IT' message across by now and this year looks like it might be more focused on the collaborative side of software development.

RU ready?

IBM Rational Software Developer Conference 2008 - Where teams R heroes! Did you see what they did there with the R?

If it is the team-based aspect of programming that enjoys the limelight this year, then I hope we'll see some comments that reflect back upon what Rational Software general manager Danny Sabbah said last year in his opening keynote. Sabbah's 2007 comments were intended to highlight Big Blue's focus on how we measure business success in a web 2.0 world with distributed teams and functions trying to collaborate.

“Leveraging community effects from Open Source, to Metcalfe’s Law and social networking should be what we are all about with today’s Rational,” said Sabbah last year. It'll be good to see how he feels we have all progressed.

All that Jazz…

Last year's major news was the launch of IBM’s Jazz offering. This is a scalable Eclipse-based team collaboration platform with transparency at its core. It is targeted at organisationally, geographically and even temporally dispersed development teams.

jazz'

So of course this year the partners have a chance to shout about their work with Jazz. Thus far, the only player to show their hand is Mainsoft, who will use Monday to announce a new launch in the web 2.0-based collaboration space. Expect to hear product names like Jazz itself and IBM Rational Team Concert.

At its launch, Jazz was criticised for looking and sounding a lot like Subversion. I spoke to Lee Nackman, VP of product development & support about this issue face-to-face last year and he told me, “Subversion is a SCM-focused solution, Jazz is a bigger and broader offering as it is focused on integration across the whole development lifecycle. This is a middleware infrastructure technology if you like, this is not a replacement for Eclipse.”

Again, as to whether the passing of one year has clarified Jazz’s position remains to be seen.

Other headlines from last year included IBM's concern over the lack of architectural governance in software projects today. We also got Big Blue’s open admission that its customers are saying Rational products have high TCO and are overly complex with ‘all or nothing’ installation options.

I’ll be looking to see whether products which were new last year such as IBM Rational Team Concert Beta 1 (a real-time collaborative portal optimised for Agile development teams) have helped address many of the failings that the company said it had identified as areas for concern.

To boldly go... “CAPTAIN’S BLOG – STARDATE: 01.06.2008AD”

Day three keynote is bound to be a crowd pleaser. Not to be outdone by Sun wheeling out Neil Young last month at JavaOne, IBM has brought in Captain Kirk himself William Shatner. No doubt he'll be among friends – unless he starts reminiscing about TJ Hooker I suppose.

For sure, this is generally one of the better developer shows to attend. IBM’s firmly implanted status on the technology landscape means that the Rational Software crew are a pretty relaxed bunch and they don’t give you the hard sell. Last year I was impressed to see developers attending some sessions out of pure curiosity to broaden their knowledge base. The best example of this is Terry Quatrani’s “Introduction to UML”, which is always standing room only.

If IBM does come up for criticism it's when Sabbah comes out with soundbites such as, "Vision without execution is hallucination." Whether he is trying to mark his territory in the Top 10 Great IT Quotes of All Time is open to debate. But with so many developers in attendance who put their nose to the actual grindstone everyday, it's for sure that we'll want some meaty substance this week as well as the warm hand of the corporate message masters.

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