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IBM/Rational builds ALM

IBM Rational BuildForge

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Well, IBM/Rational has made its Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) story rather more complete by acquiring BuildForge (which plays in the ITIL Release Management space and wider) in May 2006. This is another example of a trend I identified earlier this year, I guess.

At a breakfast meeting a few days ago hosted by fmisolutions we got to see BuildForge working and IBM explained how it discovered that it loved the product so much it had to buy it. Basically, it lets you script the Build process, manage it as a process, run independent parts of it in parallel, and generally speed things up (by implication, Rational tools must be quite big pieces of software).

And, an efficient Build process is very useful if you're using Agile and need something like a continuous build process.

Of course, if a Build is taking all night, perhaps you shouldn't be building monolithic software. But if you've been left, or acquired, monolithic software which does the job, you may still have to maintain it and perhaps an efficient Build process is the lesser of several evils.

Anyway, IBM likes BuildForge, partly because it delivers rapid ROI and addresses real pain-points in an organisation - which then produces goodwill towards other Rational tools. Sensibly, IBM isn't making it too dependent on the rest of the Rational toolset, however (as far as I can see, integration so far is largely a friendly Rational badge on its screens, although doubtless this will increase), - no one likes to feel herded into a pen...

Derek Hutson (responsable for BuildForge Worldwide Sales in IBM) made some very interesting comments about integrating BuildForge with Rational-badged Service Management and ALM offerings next year, while maintaining its standalone capabilities and support for non-IBM tools. If you manage the Build process, you have a lot of information about precisely what code goes into your software; and Application Service Management ties the software into the business services it enables. The end result? Transparency right through from executable to business process.

But, it seems to me, ALM proper cuts across IBM's Tivoli and Rational brands - so I wonder how IBM will handle that? However, it does seem that Rational is still very much alive and well inside IBM, even if we haven't heard that much about it lately. ®

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