IBM Innovate2012. The Rational Software Conference, June 2012

The $845* million dollar acquisition of Telelogic AB by IBM was more than just a technology acquisition. It reflected awareness in IBM Rational that the industrial (manufacturing) sectors were important, in fact very important.

Refreshingly this year’s event highlighted the increasing profile of IBM’s industrial (complex systems and embedded) business within the Rational brand. In fact it was presented, in my eyes, on par in importance with enterprise software development; especially and importantly during executive keynotes. This wasn’t the (obvious) case last year. No doubt this in part reflects an acknowledgement of growth in opportunity and sales over last year, ahead of that seen in commercial sectors.

There were numerous panel, discussion group and presentation sessions focused on systems engineering and embedded software separated by audience type; press and analysts, executives and developers. On the press and analyst ‘track’, there was much more opportunity than last year to talk over situations with Meg Selfe, VP of Complex and Embedded systems and her management team. Discussions included those of IBM’s visions of partner and customer ecosystems and their increasing desire to deliver value across a broader engineering environment.

On futures, IBM clearly aims to extend their solution coverage beyond the embedded software development space. One reflection of this is in their ‘RELM’ solution set (Rational Engineering Lifecycle Management). RELM intends to help companies integrate, automate, measure and better manage complex product environments.

To make the RELM a reality requires tools of course, but also federating technologies (to integrate ALM, PLM, EDA etc.)  and a willing set of software suppliers that’re working towards the common (end-user) vision.

OSLC (Open Services for Lifecycle Collaboration  ) underlies IBMs’ vision of federation and has the support of end user companies such as Boeing, EADS, GM, Northrup Grumman and Shell.  From the software side there are a number of participating companies, most, but not all of whom are existing IBM software development ecosystem partners. Importantly (and key to making the vision truly multi-domain) there are some supporters of note from adjacent engineering domains. Siemens (PLM Software) participated in a very interesting panel discussion. My most memorable quote from that panel discussion was that “OSLC can be the integration glue in the double helix of ALM and PLM”. Also of note, Mentor Graphics took the opportunity at the event to announce integration between their Capital tool suite and Rational Team Concert via OSLC.

An elegant demonstration from National Instruments (NI) highlighted a burgeoning alliance between the two companies. Speaking to Phil Hester, VP of R&D for NI, the bidirectional link between requirements, quality and hardware-in-loop test is something customers really value. This sentiment was very much endorsed as I stood watching a demonstration of the link on the exhibition floor together with a major aerospace customer. “Looks great! …When can I have it?”; to quote the customer. At present this capability is in beta at 6 key accounts (with 20+ in the pipeline) and general availability is scheduled for later this year. This integration is currently API based, but both NI and IBM note that future iterations will leverage OSLC.

Unfortunately time available to attend technical sessions was very limited.  I did however manage to attend a very interesting and entertaining presentation on the development of next generation of infotainment systems at Jaguar Land Rover. This was delivered by Matt Jones who is JLR’s Senior Technical Specialist – Infotainment at Jaguar Land Rover & Vice President, GENIVI. (GENIVI® is a non-profit industry alliance committed to driving the broad adoption of an In-Vehicle Infotainment (IVI) open-source development platform.)

In summary then, a successful event for IBM Rational. Customer attendees and partners seemed to be pretty happy too. Increasing importance placed on complex and embedded systems and impending major product releases (for example RELM and Doors Next Generation) reflect a desire to drive growth in key industrial segments.

*For those interested…some facts from the past: Rational Software was in its formative years a very significant player in the embedded market and IBM was one of its original investors. In a top ten list of vendors in the “Embedded Systems and Real-Time Operating Systems” market report (Gartner Dataquest data supplied to an IEEE SPECTRUM article, December 2001) showed that Rational software was ranked number 2 by revenue and had revenue growth from $67.8m in 1999 to $132.2m in 2000. Total Rational Software revenues in FY2001 prior to IBM acquisition were $689m. Purchase price by IBM, $2.1Bn (Feb 21, 2003). Telelogic AB in the same embedded systems report ranked 8th with revenues of $20.1m in 2000 up from $18.5m in 1999. Total Telelogic revenues in FY2006 were 1,524.9 SEK – approximately $208m. Purchase price by IBM $845m (Apr 3, 2008)