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IBM buys Green Hat for virty dev tools

Red Hat would complete the set

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Setting up systems to do software testing is almost as annoying as setting up systems to run in production, or maybe it is more annoying because of the multiple scenarios you have to test before you throw the code over the wall into the data center.

That is why IBM has bought Green Hat, which is neither a cuckold (in China wearing a green hat is idiomatic for being made one) nor a galero (much as a red hat designates a cardinal, this wide-brimmed hat designates a bishop), but rather an Anglo-American software company that makes software testing tools that do some things that Big Blue's Rational toolbox does not.

Green Hat has created a testing tool called GH Tester, which is a simulation environment for stress-testing n-tier applications. It has add-ons for controlling access to code under development and managing testing runs and builds, and there is another layer for monitoring the performance of the simulated applications, too. But that's not the secret sauce...

What IBM is after is a layer in the GH Tester tool called Virtual Integration Environment, which allows programmers to simulate a portion of the n-tier application and plug its simulated inputs and outputs into the code that is being tested. This allows for programming departments to not worry about the myriad things that might plug into their code and have to bring them directly into the simulation, but rather to hard code an inputs and outputs based on observing the behavior of these elements in the real world.

This is particularly important for business process management (BPM) and service-oriented architecture (SOA) distributed applications, which can have a dizzying array of dependencies. The idea is that by simulating portions of the application environment that have not changed, you can speed up testing on the portions that have changed and get the testing and qualification done faster. IBM says that companies often spend half of the development budgets on testing, and of that, a big chunk (around 30 per cent) is allocated to building and rebuilding the test environment itself.

GH Tester knows all about different messaging technologies that are at the heart of modern distributed applications and works with TIBCO SmartSockets and Rendezvous and many related tools, Software AG's webMethods, IBM's WebSphere MQ, Oracle Fusion and SOA Suite, SAP NetWeaver, Progress Software's SonicMQ, and the Java Message Service API embedded in various software stacks. Equally importantly, GH Tester is already certified to work in conjunction with IBM's Rational Team Concert and Quality Manager tools, which are used to coordinate the coding and testing activities of programming teams.

Green Hat was founded in 1996 by Peter Cole, currently the company's CEO, and is co-headquartered in London, England, and Wilmington, Delaware. Most of the company's 45 employees are in London, according to an IBM spokesperson. While IBM is not talking about customer counts, many of the big banks and telecom providers on both sides of the pond use GH Tester.

IBM did not disclose what it will pay to acquire Green Hat, but says that it hopes to close the deal by the end of January. Green Hat will move into IBM's Rational tools division within Software Group and Cole plans to stay on and take a position at Big Blue; IBM is not disclosing any other personnel plans relating to the acquisition at this time.

So why Green Hat, you ask? It comes from management consultant Edward de Bono's Six Thinking Hats methodology. The Green Hat is focused on creativity, while the Red Hat concerns intuition. Or, out here in the real world, it means enterprise-grade Linux and middleware based on open-source projects. Something else that might fit very well within IBM's Software Group if new CEO Ginni Rometty – who took over running IBM on January 1 – decides to go shopping for more IT hats to wear. ®

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