Many System i customers have been using Rational tools for several years. While the WebSphere Development Studio Client (WDSc) development tools carry a WebSphere label, WDSc is built on top of Rational technology: Rational Web Developer for WDSc Standard Edition and Rational Application Developer for WDSc Advanced Edition.
Throughout the commercial software development industry and the Java community, Rational is well-known for its leadership in advanced technology. IBM's Rational organization created the core of the Eclipse development platform and donated it to the open-source community, and it was IBM that founded eclipse.org.
However, Rational embraces much more than Java development tools. Rational provides a complete, integrated suite of tools to control, manage, and automate the entire systems development life cycle.
Rational tooling support can track a business user's request for an IT service throughout the analysis, design, testing, and deployment phases or the complete life cycle of a development project.
So What's New?
What is new is that Rational has created a unique organization to focus on the needs of System i and System z customers. This organization, founded in March 2006, is dedicated to identifying the needs of System i and z customers and ensuring that Rational delivers the solutions that make sense for customers focused on business system development.
This organization, while under development, has its own marketing team, an "Eco System" team dedicated to creating ways for customers to best learn and utilize Rational products, with services ranging from operating electronic forums to providing onsite assistance if and as required.
Rational's new customer-centric means of setting the direction of Rational products is called "Outside In Design." This means that IBM is customer-driven. IBM means business when it asks for input from customers, and you will see your input implemented not only as new features but potentially as completely new products to meet your needs.
Quite simply, System i represents the largest segment of IBM's customers on a worldwide basis. One estimate tells us that there are about 3 million people developing software for System i machines. But Rational has not focused its message solely on the System i community. As part of the new organization, people with experience in the community (like me, for example) have joined the Rational System i and z organization to help ensure that Rational meets your needs.
Our first step is to create an awareness of currently available products that can help you today. This includes a full line of governance and compliance tools; design, modeling, and analysis tools; a robust suite of testing and software quality tools; and a broad base of development tools, including a business development language and tooling called Enterprise Generation Language (EGL), which enables you to create state-of-the-art applications that leverage current IBM architectures and technologies such as SOA.
Rational will embrace your existing RPG- and COBOL-based systems, helping you to leverage existing code and meet the demands for new facilities and technologies to meet the needs of your business.
The "i" in System i stands for integration. System i now supports Linux, AIX, and integrated System x servers as well as the venerable i5/OS. Rational tools provide a single integrated suite of tools to manage your entire development environment, leverage your existing staff, and reach the maximum levels of productivity and potential required by your business.
Rational offers many facilities for System i customers today and will be constantly bringing new offerings to the System i community over the coming months and years.
Bob Cancilla is the Product Market Manager, IBM Rational Tools for System i and z.