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Wither Rational?

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I was talking to an ex-Rational manager a week or so ago, who obviously believed that IBM’s enthusiasm for Rational was waning in the face of its success with Eclipse and who also thought that the morale of ex-Rational employees inside IBM was waning.

Well, that POV seemed to come as a surprise to Roger Oberg (Vice President, Rational Marketing and Strategy) when I put it to him. MRDA and all that, but at http://www.ibm.com/annualreport/2005/index.shtml we learn that: “in 2004, the total application development software market grew to more than $3.7bn, and IBM remains the market share leader at nearly 35 per cent, with Microsoft a distant second at 16 per cent…”. IBM also lays claim to “more than 1,200 Rational software developers within IBM. In its earnings report announced January 17, “the Rational division grew four per cent year-over-year contributing to IBM Software Group's $15.8bn in revenues”.

And it isn't as if IBM Rational is standing still. Roger pointed out that we now have Rational Method Composer, which appears to take RUP (Rational Unified Process) beyond software development into the entire application lifecycle.

It seems to let you customise a process to your needs rather than promote “one size fits all”. And there’s Rational Portfolio Manager, a lifecycle IT governance solution which groups projects into groups or portfolios which share resources and contribute to business goals, a considerable improvement in approach over managing individual projects. And, the IBM SOA governance life cycle gives us a context for these and other tools in the current fashionable architecture.

There are more tools (look at the list of SOA development and management tools here) This looks like a rich toolset and a lot of it is still badged Rational. Eclipse is obviously important but it is the implementation technology (and the community) underneath Rational tools. Eclipse is developing, but I think it’s still an IDE (or set of IDE tools) and a long way from being a complete automated application lifecycle process.

Nevertheless, whatever the truth (or the clever marketing), perception is all: what do Reg Developer readers think that IBM is doing with Rational and Eclipse? I am particularly interested in the views of Rational customers. Please comment here – who knows, there might be a round-up article in it…

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