IBM's Rational unit has launched a technology called Jazz, in order to encourage better developer collaboration on large projects.
The technology will be supported by a new developer community, and Rational plans to unveil its first Jazz-based product.
The Jazz.net web portal was opened at the Rational Software Development Conference in Florida. Developers will be able to use the site to offer IBM input on requirements, report bugs and tweak code.
But Dave Locke, Rational's director of offerings marketing, acknowledged that the site will not be a truly open source endeavour. IBM will own anything built using its code, and Jazz technology will eventually be incorporated into all Rational products.
IBM described Jazz as a follow-on to the popular Eclipse open source project that it launched in 2001 and later turned over to the independent Eclipse Foundation. While Eclipse focused on individual developer productivity, Jazz aims to works on all cycles of the development process and on supporting collaboration.
Tony Callan, manager of architecture governance at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Michigan, noted that when developers working on different parts of a job work together, the overall project functions more efficiently. "You need to have tools that will work together to get the testing, requirements and design teams visibility into how things are going," he said.
Ricardo Garcia, director at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida, said he expects Jazz to help address parallel development processes: "Jazz not only brings the communications channel inside the development platform, but it integrates everything. The integration with the complete workflow for the lifecycle ... is a big improvement."
IBM also plans to announce a beta version of the first product built with the Jazz technology. IBM Rational Team Concert is a plug-in for all Rational development tools and is designed to support collaboration among distributed agile development teams.
Carey Schwaber, an analyst at Forrester, said Jazz is likely to make it easier for Rational users to have the benefits of collaboration and the improved visibility into project status, which IBM "has been promising for a long time".
Schwaber said that with Jazz, all users in the development process can use role based, best of breed tools with a single interface to access project data from a single repository: "People can look at the overall status of the project rather than their little slice of the pie."
Although the integration among Rational's tools has improved in recent years, Schwaber said it is not as good as that of some competitors' products and sometimes hinders collaboration. As a result, she felt that Rational had been losing some of its market share to Microsoft and other vendors.