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In many cases, the end of the year gives you time to step back and take stock of the last 12 months. This is when many of us take a hard look at what worked and what did not, complete performance reviews, and formulate plans for the coming year. For me, it is all of those things plus a time when I u...
SYS-CON.TV
Rational Says 'I Do' to IBM
BM continues to build out its environment for build, run, and manage by agreeing to acquire Ration

(December 13, 2002) - Last week saw the world of i-technology either shrink hugely or expand hugely...depending on your viewpoint. With IBM and Rational announcing their betrothal to be married in Q1 of next year, the discussion among industry analysts and Internet technology professionals ranged from what the effect would be on Java as an enterprise platform to the rumor that the bridal bouquet had been tossed into the aisle - and caught by Sun Microsystems.

On the day of the announcement, Java Developer's Journal questioned the two executives most involved in the development, namely the senior VP and group executive, Software Group, Steve Mills; and Mike Devlin - the CEO of Rational Software Corp., who (as Mills put it, somewhat bluntly) "comes to work for me." Ajit Sagar, J2EE editor of JDJ, asked Mills whether he is expecting the Java developer community around the world to change its prior perspective of IBM as a champion of Java. "Aren't you now going to be regarded," asked Sagar, "as more of a cross-platform design offerer, as opposed to being a Java champion?"

"We.ve always been cross-platform," countered Mills. "Clearly from a standards/open platform standpoint," he continued, "we build things around Java, we principally write to Java and to C++. We don't write things in Visual Basic, and we're not working on C# in any direct sense. So we're not explicitly building to the Microsoft infrastructure, what we're doing is enabling on top of their infrastructure - any infrastructure we build focuses very heavily on the Java/J2EE environment, though not uniquely. We mix in and extend to other languages . for example XML, another language-type structure that's a key part of our strategy going forward."

Sagar pressed his point that nonetheless this acquisition of Rational, traditionally thought of as being very closely affiliated to Microsoft technologies, was a far cry from IBM's reputation to date as a promoter of Open Source projects like Eclipse and as a Java-centric organization.

"I don't think that the customers that use Rational technologies identify them as uniquely in the Java space," Mills replied. "I think they have a strong reputation as a cross-platform provider and this transaction between IBM and Rational continues that reputation."

Sagar wondered next whether this transaction, assuming that it is approved by Rational's shareholders and goes ahead in Q1 of 2003 as planned, would herald the introduction of more of Rational's offerings moving down to the application server/infrastructure level.

Eric Schuur, Rational's senior vice president for marketing, agreed that "Customers are using middleware layers, writing specifically to the application server, using the database as an insulation layer." Increasingly, he explained, applications are not written to the operating system as much as they are written to the middleware layers.

"Part of what we are doing with the Rational transaction," Mills explained, "and part of what we are going to be doing more of in the future, is striving for better optimization between the Rational tools and the IBM middleware that we deliver in the marketplace. This will therefore be Java-based, since WebSphere is a Java-based environment."

Mills ended on a note intended to bolster IBM's new-found reputation as a "developer's Switzerland."

"The good news here," he said, "is that we're not the only provider of Java-based runtime infrastructure, so the Rational tools optimized to the Java/J2EE model therefore are effectively optimized to alternate providers of J2EE infrastructure."

This, Mills argued, serves to underline IBM's commitment to a heterogenous development environment, a Web services-based perspective that mirrors Blue's wide, broad vision of the use of IT to support business integration.

About Jeremy Geelan
Jeremy Geelan is Chairman & CEO of the 21st Century Internet Group, Inc. and an Executive Academy Member of the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences. Formerly he was President & COO at Cloud Expo, Inc. and Conference Chair of the worldwide Cloud Expo series. He appears regularly at conferences and trade shows, speaking to technology audiences across six continents. You can follow him on twitter: @jg21.

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