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Jonathan Erickson

Dr. Dobb's Bloggers

Collaboration and All that Jazz

May 31, 2008

It used to be that I traveled to get away from work. These days, work follows me -- or I follow work. Whatever.

But I'm not alone in this regard. Working away from a central office -- whether it be a development team distributed amongst Budapest, Delhi, Valladolid, and Cupertino, or me schlepping a backpack from one end of O'Hare International Airport to the other -- is the norm these days. But what those of us who share this kind of workplace have realized is that the tools to enable efficiency aren't always very efficient.

Which is why IBM has released new software that it claims will transform how people will collaborate. And IBM has done it in a big way, by announcing 20 products (not all of which are available today) that are built on top of Jazz, collaborative technology designed to help geographically distributed software delivery teams work together in an open, real-time, and transparent manner.

"Currently, organizational, geographical and technical silos inhibit business agility and return on software investments. In a globally integrated enterprise, organizations need to transform how they collaborate to get the job done," said Dr. Daniel Sabbah, general manager, IBM Rational Software. "IBM's Jazz platform breaks down location, infrastructure and organizational barriers, transforming the practice of global software delivery."

For instance, IBM Rational Team Concert (available on June 30) will incorporates social networking technologies, such as instant messaging and presence awareness, into the management of a software delivery project on a global scale. Team Concert helps software teams collaborate in real time in the context of specific roles and processes. Integrated version control, work item and build management capabilities help distributed teams cope with geographic and functional barriers so that they can think and work in unison. The tool includes automated data gathering, resulting in significantly less documentation and provides real-time project health information required to reduce project risk.

Team Concert Express-C Edition, a free version available for download from the Jazz site , is designed to help consultants and students gain experience with a global software delivery environment.

IBM is also introducing Requirements Composer to help software delivery teams gain consensus on how a project should be designed using familiar business artifacts such as storyboards, sketches, scenarios and models. Currently in beta, this software is supposed to help teams visualize commitments, thereby reducing rework and review cycles on requirements.

IBM is also announcing the beta of Quality Manager, comprehensive test planning and process software which provides a single view into all aspects of a quality plan. With 100-percent distributed access and Web 2.0-based collaboration, this software traces where a project stands in the software delivery cycle to help key stakeholders prioritize issues for resolution.

Similar to what Eclipse did to consolidate the desktop, IBM hopes Jazz will transform the industry by supporting interoperability across an array of collaborative application lifecycle management solutions. Over the next several years, most of the IBM Rational portfolio will evolve to incorporate Jazz technology to improve team collaboration and make it easier to integrate IBM products and those from IBM's business partners. This will provide IBM customers with a flexible on-ramp to the Jazz platform of the future.

And as for me, I'll still be hauling a backpack from one gate to the other.

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