IBM tries to 'jazz' up software delivery

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IBM tries to 'jazz' up software delivery

With its new technology platform, Jazz, IBM hopes to provide a more cohesive and streamlined approach to software development and delivery.

IBM has framed the Jazz technology to more easily allow different stakeholders in a software development team, from architects to project managers to CIOs, to experience a heightened level of collaboration when working on a project.

At a product demonstration in Sydney this week, IBM technology evangelist Eric Long says the name 'Jazz' stems from the experience of a music band, which he believes is much like that of a software development team.

"Individuals in a band are doing different things, like playing drums or singing, but they're all going towards the same end goal, whether it be to make great music or sell a lot of albums," said Long.

"The same can be said for software development teams. They're all going towards same common goal of making an interesting product, while sometimes doing completely different things. Jazz makes it so everyone can adjust his or her performance according to how all the individuals are progressing to make a more collaborative group effort."

Long says this sense of collaboration in software development seems to be lacking in many companies, as IBM research found that only 37 percent of stakeholders are satisfied with internal application development.

He attributes much of the friction and dissatisfaction to geographic barriers, weak project governance, and incompatible infrastructure tools.

"Right now, there's an intense focus on business outcomes and priorities that are rapidly evolving, and two thirds of software products span business and location," said Long.

"There's a lot of pressure regarding software delivery, and a lot of development teams aren't sure where they're going and have no real leadership or communication."

To address those needs, Jazz provides customers with tools to encourage more communication, including instant messaging and discussion boards. It also allows project managers to specifically tailor the information each team member can access, to avoid miscommunication about job responsibilities.

Aspects of Jazz are built on open source standards, so customers can use their preferred applications, even non-IBM products, to deliver their software.

"Even our competitors could start building products to work with Jazz," said Long.

"That's good news for customers, and, I guess, sort of good news for IBM. It will hopefully keep us sharp to build top notch applications to keep customers coming back. I think it's a refreshing approach to application delivery."

IBM's first application to be built on the Jazz platform is Rational Team Concert, with products for academic, mid-sized commercial, and corporate software. Two more delivery applications are expected to be released later this year.

Jazz customers can access the current platform technology and any news and updates from the community site,

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