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IBM touts collaboration tools for large software projects

IBM tools promise to bring together management, software developers

By , Network World
June 06, 2011 10:07 AM ET

Network World - ORLANDO -- IBM kicks off its annual Innovate Conference today with a slew of updated software life-cycle management tools to support software-development teams on a large scale.

Collaborative Lifecycle Management 3.0, announced today, lets teams of software developers work together on project assignments across the globe, while providing specific dashboards for managers, the chief information officer and technical sales managers to find out how software project requirements are being met.

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According to Harish Grama, vice president of product development at IBM Rational, this release expands how developers can share information about what they're doing that might have otherwise gone into a spreadsheet or email. This and an automated capability in CLM 3.0 to capture real-time intelligence about dozens of details about developer actions and perceived quality, bring a way to make determinations such as time to completion or how far a project is off from a published schedule.

The analytical templates in CLM 3.0 provide a way for technical people, managers, technical sales people and chief information officers to zero in on information of the most immediate concern to them, Grama says. IBM's CLM is designed to connect project requirements into source code and test system environments to track what developers should do, even if those groups are scattered across the world.

At Innovate, IBM is also showcasing what it calls Collaborative Design Management, based on IBM's Jazz platform for agile collaborative development, which supports messaging and a range of interaction methods between software and systems designers.

Collaborative Design Management relies on new versions of IBM's Rational Rhapsody Design Manager and Rational Software Architect Design Manager that can work together so that designs no longer have to be held in isolation on a developer's desktop but can be part of an open view available to team members.

"Design modelers tend to live in their own world," Grama says. "With this common Web user interface, we get them working together."

In fact, much of IBM's push with its Jazz platform is about bringing technical people with various skill sets together. One of the biggest challenges can be the lack of communication between the developer and the IT operations groups, which can impact quality and cause delays on projects.

In order to "bridge the chasm between development and operations," IBM will be highlighting tools for Collaborative DevOps, such as planning tools related to mapping to infrastructure pieces such as Web servers and switches, so that the operations people can interact more easily with the developers, says Grama. When they don't work well together, unnecessary mistakes are made, he notes.

When it comes to collaboration, Grama points out the tools themselves need to be able to work together in a fluid way as well and IBM is doing that by supporting what's called Open Services for Lifecycle Collaboration 2.0, a set of open REST-based APIs that rely on URL links to loosely couple together collaboration tools from different vendors so there can be sharing of information that is consumed or published by them. Several other vendors, including Oracle, support OSLC.

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