IBM Innovate 2010 Rational software developers conference

Upbeat tempo, an enormous audience of 4000 people and an inspirational keynote by Dean Kamen left me impressed with this year’s IBM Rational software developer’s conference.
Steve Mills’ keynote reminded me (not that I could ever forget) of IBM’s huge momentum in the software industry. One just has to look at their breadth and depth of offerings and number and scale of their investments over recent past to be mindful of the significance that IBM places on their software business. Interesting to note at this particular event that their embedded systems impetus, which one could argue was waning some years ago under Rational brand has been revitalised following the Telelogic acquisition. Responsibility for this programme has recently been placed under the direction of Meg Selfe in a unit called ‘Complex and Embedded Systems’.
Meg’s background appears to be ideally suitable for the Systems and Embedded role not only in recent past within IBM but also in her former experiences in both technology and management in companies such as GM and Motorola. Discussions with her and the ever insightful Neeraj Chandra highlighted IBM’s significant interest in covering more than just the software lifecycle; to that point it’s interesting to note PTC’s recent forays into the realms of application lifecycle (notably software) management with announced support of open source technologies such as Bugzilla, Eclipse and Subversion in their PLM platform Windchill. IBM’s intention is forecast to provide the (tools and) frameworks to support an extended play in the PLM space. Key to this, as always, is the engagement and support of both customers and other software suppliers – with customer needs driving more intimate partnerships. I’d be surprised if we don’t hear more on this soon.
Cloud computing. Hyperbole or fact? Fact, I believe. Although (I’d argue that) the technology is somewhat more evolutionary than revolutionary, the interest level in understanding what, how and why is at an all time high. The cloud sessions I attended were packed to the gunnels reflecting real interest on the values and application of the concept. It’s also apparent that the field is still rapidly evolving, notably within IBM. What I saw and heard at the event was skewed to the larger enterprise but what will be interesting to see is whether IBM will extend their programs to support smaller to mid-size developers and their customers; areas in which Microsoft (Azure) and Google (App Engine) and to a lesser extent Amazon (EC2) appear to currently have more significant aspirations.