Integration, quality in the spotlight for IBM Rational

In an effort to improve integration with its third-party customers, IBM Corp. unveiled plans on Tuesday to standardize its automated software quality tools from Rational Software on an open source platform called Hyades. The company also revealed a concurrent announcement for a software quality campaign called Continuously Ensure Quality (CEQ).

Adopting Hyades at the base for its software quality tools allows IBM Rational to have a free flow of information to other vendors and at the same time use a universal data store and a universal infrastructure of the tests and data it collects through its tools, said Geoffrey Bessin, market manager, software quality at IBM Rational.

“Customers want integration and they need to have universal data formats and application program interfaces…real specific pillars that made it difficult to integrate the kind of solutions customers were requesting,” he added. “Hyades doesn’t care what the operating system is, it doesn’t care what the technology is and it doesn’t care who you are building the tool for…its agnostic of the role, it doesn’t know what you are testing, analyzing or monitoring.”

The standardization to the Hyades platform — which was formed as a project in late 2002 as a subgroup of the Eclipse open source project — is focused on providing the necessary infrastructure to ensure the tool interoperability and data traceability required to unify all software quality efforts performed across the application development and deployment lifecycle, IBM said. Eclipse is a platform for tool integration built by an open community of tool providers.

“Hyades is an enabler. It allows us to build a shared infrastructure to tie together all of our future software tools and capabilities,” Bessin explained.

Serge Lucio, senior product manager, automated software quality at IBM Rational, said IBM started working with Hyades about 18 months ago after the company realized that it was spending a fair amount of time building and rebuilding the base infrastructure for most of its testing tools to help its customers build software quality.

At the onset of the project, Lucio said IBM Rational wanted to target the traditional development life cycle, starting with analysts, testers and developers. Now it has expanded the scope to encompass operations, to be able to enter software quality once the software is in production.

“The spectrum of Hyades is pretty wide ranging from unit testing, runtime analysis, functional testing, but also active monitoring of an application process,” he said.

So far, Intel Corp., Compuware Corp. and SAP AG have announced support for Hyades, IBM said, but Lucio said that IBM is working hard to get other vendors on board. He couldn’t comment on who those companies are, or if Microsoft Corp., Borland Corp., or any of the other tools vendors would support the endeavour, but the company is hoping to drive adopting of the framework in order to get the full benefits of the platform, he said.

Warren Shiau, research manager, software research at IDC Canada Ltd. in Toronto said IBM needs support from all the vendors.

“[IBM is] making an official showing of what their direction is in the hope that this will get other people to come on board is well. If no one adopts it officially, it goes nowhere, so someone has to be the first,” he said, adding that it’s too early to say that because IBM doesn’t have widespread vendor support right now that’s it’s not going to eventually take off.

Shiau said that the announcement is not a bold move because the Java vendors with the exception of Sun Microsystems Inc. have already announced their strategies to support Eclipse.

With the standardization of its software quality tools on the Hyades platform, Bessin explained that IBM Rational would also be able to execute another initiative that runs concurrent with the Hyades announcement — a campaign called Continuously Ensure Quality.

CEQ aims to instill a commitment in organizations to embrace quality a guiding principal that touches every phase of the software development and development lifecycle, IBM said.

Organizations must build quality as they can’t test for it, Bessin explained.

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