IBM Rational Offers New Licensing Options For Customers, Channel Partners

IBM added new licensing plans for its Rational software development products Monday, a move the company said would provide channel partners with a broader range of delivery options.

The company also unveiled expanded cloud deployment options for Rational products. The announcements were made at the company’s Innovate 2010 conference in Orlando Monday before some 4,000 Rational software customers and partners.

IBM currently sells Rational development software with several pricing models, including perpetual licenses, fixed term (for a specific individual for a designated length of time) and ’floating’ licenses for a specific product shared by multiple people within a development team.

Use of specific tools increases and decreases throughout different phases of software development projects, however. A design tool used heavily by a development team early in a software project, for example, largely sits on the shelf during the later test stages.

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The new token licensing plan essentially allows customers to lease IBM Rational products with no time limits and move between multiple products as needed. Customers purchase ’tokens’ that are used to create a pool of ’value units’ the company can use at any time to acquire Rational licenses with equivalent values. With the new ’term’ licensing model, in contrast, customers license a product for unlimited usage for a set period of time.

Most customers are expected to use a mix of licensing plans based on their needs and software development schedules.

’This is a very powerful notion when it comes to a customers’ affordability, in terms of getting what they need from us at the right rates they want,’ said Scott Hebner, Rational vice president of marketing and channels, in a press conference.

The new licensing plans will be available around the end of the third quarter when they are supported by the Rational Jazz Foundation Server.

On the cloud computing front, IBM said its Rational Software Delivery Services for Cloud Computing, a collaborative development system, now supports the IBM CloudBurst cloud computing appliance based on the IBM System x BladeCenter.

Executives said the new licensing plans, combined with new cloud deployment options, provides more flexibility for both channel partners and their customers.

’That level of flexibility is not only useful for our customers, but also for our business partners who have to work with us in delivering our platform to their customers,’ said Danny Sabbah, general manager of IBM Rational, at the same press conference. ’It’s something that’s certainly useful in helping them build out variable delivery options.’

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Many of the executive keynote speeches at Innovate 2010 focused on the issue of the growing complexity of software systems and how information technology in everything from automobiles to health-care systems is becoming increasingly interconnected and integrated – ’a system of systems,’ is how Sabbah described it.

’We need a better approach to software and systems delivery,’ Sabbah said in a keynote speech after showing a slide with headlines about software system failures. ’We’re creating mission-critical systems that connect to other systems that have dependencies and real impact.’

Sabbah and other executives also tied those trends to IBM’s Smarter Planet initiative.

’Never in the history of this planet have we had the opportunity to drive societal and fiscal outcomes to this degree,’ he said. ’But never have we also had this level of complexity. In fact, I’d say we’ve reached an inflection point. We’re creating a better approach to addressing this complexity. And innovation is no longer a nice-to-have, it’s really a must-have.’

IBM Rational announced what it called the Integrated Product Management Framework with combinations of IBM hardware and Rational software covering business planning and transformation, product and systems development, design chain collaboration, and asset management and operations.