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This week at the Rational Software Conference in Orlando, IBM Rational made some Big Announcements about some new cloud-based offerings. I thought I’d write a blog entry to provide some context for community members to help them understand the implications of cloud computing to Jazz-based products.

From the earliest days of building Jazz, three of our key goals were:

  • Users should be able to quickly and easily get up and running with Jazz-based products
  • We should cleanly partition IT administrative tasks (ex. connecting to LDAP) from software delivery administrative tasks (ex. changing a user’s role on a team) so that software delivery leaders would be empowered to manage their projects and process while not having to worry about gorpy infrastructure detail
  • Jazz should scale up to support large organizations but should also “scale down” to support the needs of small teams

Until recently, we assumed that Jazz-based products would always be installed as “traditional middleware”; i.e. download the bits, install on a supported OS, and configure the product to integrate with lower level middleware (app server, database, LDAP, etc.). We’ve spent a lot of time and effort trying to make these tasks as painless as possible, whether by improving the design of the downloads page, to providing a dead-simple Tomcat/Derby “unzip and go tire kickers’ configuration”, to providing a “Server Setup Wizard” that provides rich UIs and intelligent defaults to help new users get up and running quickly.

With this week’s “IBM Software Delivery Services for the Cloud” announcements, we begin to take the next step towards dramatic simplification of deploying and managing Jazz-based products with the additional goal of a more flexible environment that scales up or scales down based on an organization’s usage needs.

Starting later this month, we’ll launch a tech preview where Rational Software Conference attendees can tire kick deploying and running some important Rational products in a cloud environment, including (but not limited to):

  • Rational Team Concert
  • Rational Quality Manager
  • Rational Requirements Composer
  • Rational Build Forge
  • Rational Insight
  • Rational Asset Manager

We stress that this is a tech preview that we are running in order to start to familiarize our users with the cloud deployment model and to gather input from early users. But as the saying goes, a long journey starts with a first step. The journey progresses later this year when we plan to run an open beta that will help us gain experience as we work towards a production cloud deployment environment. Another important thing to stress is that these announcements do not imply that we are deprecating or moving away from traditional deployments; our current thinking is that the cloud deployment model and the traditional “install and configure” deployment model will both be options we offer to customers and the customer can choose one or the other, or eventually a hybrid.

To make this more concrete, let me provide several examples of how a cloud-based environment will differ from a traditional “install and configure” environment:

  • Pre-configured images – Today there’s a step to basically bind a Jazz-based product to your hardware and middleware environment. In the cloud environment you’ll start with pre-configured images and deploy them to a virtualized environment with a few keystrokes and mouseclicks. In some cases these images will contain a single product; in other cases the image will contain multiple pre-integrated products, such as a “collaborative ALM” image containing pre-integrated Rational Requirements Composer, Rational Team Concert, and Rational Quality Manager. Also, customers will be able to download images pre-configured with sample data to help teams get up and running quickly.
  • More focus on software delivery vs. IT administration – As Grady Booch has often said, good tools should help software delivery organizations focus on delivering software. The cloud environment will help with this by taking much of the IT administration out of the equation, at least from the perspective of the user (there’s a lot going on behind the scenes :-)).
  • Dynamic provisioning of resources to handle “bursty” demand – Certain software delivery activities are “bursty”, in that they sometimes require a large number of resources (storage, cycles, etc.) and sometimes they require few or no resources. For instance, during active development teams run frequent integration builds. After finishing a project, teams run few or no integration builds as they focus on planning the next iteration. A cloud environment helps with these bursty scenarios by letting teams use or release system resources as necessary, which helps to lower IT costs through higher utilization rates and more efficient use of resources

Once again I must stress these are early days and we have a lot to figure out and learn, but we think that this is an important and exciting step forward in the evolution of the Jazz platform.

– Bill Higgins
Jazz Foundation Development Team