15 Scenes From IBM Innovate 2010

Feeling Innovative?

Some 4,000 IBM Rational customers and channel partners (up 20 percent from 2009) flocked to the Dolphin Hotel at Disney World in Orlando June 6 - 10 for the Innovate 2010 conference where they caught up on the latest about IBM’s software development technology.

IBM has about 800 solution providers who are authorized Rational software resellers, and they account for about 15 percent of IBM Rational sales. That’s a lower percentage than channel sales in IBM’s other software lines, but it’s up from ’a very low single-digit number’ just a few years ago, said Mike Loria, business development vice president for IBM Rational, during a partner business session at the conference.

Developer Challenge

IBM Rational General Manager Danny Sabbah focused on the challenge of developing innovative software for an increasingly complex world -- what he called ’a system of systems’ in a Monday keynote speech.

Sabbah called for a new way of ’measuring innovation’ in software development, using ’econometrics’ to go beyond quality and cost to quantify the value of software in terms of fiscal and societal impact.

’We need a better approach to software and systems delivery,’ he said. ’Innovation is no longer a nice-to-have. It’s a must-have.’ The average ambulance, he said, has become a mobile data center with as many as 1,000 software components and 50 million lines of code.

The Big Picture

Businesses worldwide today have $4.5 trillion in software assets, but many organizations don’t understand their true value, said Steve Mills, senior vice president and group executive of IBM Software Group. ’These are often among the most expensive assets that business have. [But] they’re often not treated that way. [Businesses] often treat plant and facility as more important.’

But unlike such physical assets, software ’never rusts out,’ Mills said. Software that’s ’well-organized and well-structured’ often remains in production for a long, long time. ’If you write your code well, it will live forever. Applications live forever.’

An Acquisitive Nature

IBM Software Group is a $24 billion annual business, said Mills, who noted that the computer company didn’t even begin charging for software until 1978. Much of that growth has come from the more than 60 software-company acquisitions IBM has made since 2001, as shown on this slide Mills displayed during his Tuesday keynote.

But Mills emphasized that IBM isn’t ’a retailer of software.’ He said IBM’s software strategy ’is built around this idea of middleware as the core integration mechanism and the core mechanism that allows you to essentially lift value from your existing information technology assets. It’s really about an architecture and a set of capabilities to solve business problems.’

Jam(med) Session

While the keynotes were well-attended, it was the nuts-and-bolts sessions that really pulled in the hard-core developers, those with names like ’Accelerating measured improvement: An Agile approach to software development and delivery performance improvement,’ and ’STIMPy – Using Jazz, RTC and RRC to integrate core development tools in an agile SOA development environment.’

One of the better-attended workshops shown here was ’Best practices for Jazz deployment.’ Jazz is a technology platform for IBM Rational Team Concert and helps developers integrate tasks across the software lifecycle.

(A Real) Jam Session

It wasn’t all work for Innovate 2010 attendees. The conference reception Sunday evening at the Dolphin Hotel conference center featured good food, a live band and some very impressive karaoke performances from attendees. Who was that angry young woman singing Alanis Morissette’s ’You Oughta Know’?

Reading Room

Innovate 2010 offered attendees the opportunity to peruse the latest software programming literature. ’Java: The Good Parts’ and ’iPhone Application Development For Dummies’ were among the offerings.

Top Of The Reading List

Especially popular were books for users of IBM Rational development tools. The stack here includes ’Software Test Engineering With IBM Rational Functional tester,’ ’Building Applications With IBM Rational Application Developer,’ and ’Software Configuration Management Strategies and IBM Rational ClearCase.’

Kid Stuff

And, of course, there were plenty of IBM-logoed clothing and other goodies at the show store. But are you really building a smarter planet if you pay $7.25 for a baby bib?

Focus On Software Quality

’Development is still seen as a black art,’ said Robert LeBlanc, senior vice president of IBM middleware, in a keynote speech Monday. But he made a plea for IT managers to adopt Agile software development methodologies to improve software quality. ’There’s nothing that will hurt your image or brand business more than a quality problem. This is an area where all businesses should be investing.’

LeBlanc also said businesses need more licensing options to acquire development tools in a way that better matches the software development process. He introduced new ’token’ and ’term’ licensing plans from IBM Rational that will provide businesses with more flexibility in purchasing the amount of software they need for different phases of their development projects.

VIP Indeed!

Some attendees had a lot of ribbons attached to their show badges, as seen here. One gentleman was even seen sporting the ’Super Women’ ribbon. Hmmm ...

Development Icon

Grady Booch, chief scientist for software engineering, gave Innovate 2010 attendees a peak at some of the long-range projects underway within IBM Research, ranging from nanotechnology, advanced microprocessor design, improvements in DNA sequencing, ’synaptic cognitive computing,’ and the use of supercomputers for better weather forecasting.

Booch, long one of the leading figures in the software development industry, had been with Rational since 1982 and joined IBM when it acquired the company in 2003. He is best known for co-developing the Unified Modeling Language.

Inspiring Innovation

Dean Kamen, best known for inventing the Segway personal transporter, spoke about his projects to develop water purification and power generation systems for under-developed communities. He also passionately described his efforts to encourage young students, especially girls and minorities, to pursue education and careers in science and engineering through the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) organization.

’The technical community has to have a voice in the hearts and minds of kids,’ he said, in closing.

Searching For A Solution

Traffic was steady on the exhibition show floor where IBM and its technology partners, from Armstrong Process Group to Tieto Corp., showed off their stuff.

Ascendant Technology, an IBM systems integrator, was named ’Innovator of the Year’ – the top award given each year to an IBM partner. Finalist partners included Black Diamond Software and ARS Computing and Consulting. BSD Group won the award for Innovation in Jazz, the Rational development platform, while Rocket Gang won for innovation in systems.

Smarter City For a Smarter Planet

Babcock Ranch, a fully sustainable city being developed in Southwest Florida, will use IBM software – including IBM Rational Focal Point – to help plan and design the city’s extensive technology systems. Speaking Tuesday at Innovate 2010 Sid Kitson, CEO of Babcock Ranch developer Kitson and Partners, said the 17,000-acre city would be a ’living laboratory’ and ’a proving ground for IBM’s smarter planet initiative.’

Everything from the city’s solar power systems and energy grid to its transportation system will be developed using IBM technology. Ultimately the city is expected to have 6 million square feet of retail, commercial, office, civic and light industrial space.