IBM Unveils Application Framework for Cloud Computing

As part of the announcement of its recent WebSphere Cloudburst appliance, IBM announced a toolset that helps automate the deployment and configuration of applications for the cloud. IBM Rational Automation Framework for WebSphere is designed to optimize configuration and application deployment to customize WebSphere CloudBurst patterns.

Using Rational Automation Framework together with WebSphere CloudBurst can improve delivery efficiencies for development, test and production scenarios leading to faster time to market, higher-quality software and rapid return on investment, Scott Hebner, IBM Rational vice president of marketing and strategy, tells 5 Minute Briefing. "One of the biggest challenges that customers have in the deployment of applications on WebSphere Application Server is getting the configuration and administrative aspects of it correct, and making sure that when there's change, that it propagates through the system. There's an incredible amount of inefficiencies in that hand-off between the development or the sourcing of the application and the configuration information that goes into actually deploying it on the application servers."

IBM WebSphere CloudBurst Appliance is a hardware appliance that provides access to software virtual images and patterns that can be used as is or easily customized, and then securely deployed, managed and maintained in a private cloud. IBM WebSphere Application Server Hypervisor Edition is a version of IBM WebSphere Application Server software optimized to run in a virtualized hardware server environment such as VMware, and comes preloaded in WebSphere Cloudburst.

The Rational framework provides more than 400 automated tasks for configuration and application deployment to WebSphere Application Server environments, Hebner says. "So as you build and evolve services for SOA, this automates the deployment of it," he explains. "It saves 50% or more of time in what would otherwise be an error-prone manual process. With the CloudBurst appliance and the Hypervisor capabilities around the app server, we now also create that capability for CloudBurst. If you're a customer, and you're going to move applications to the WebSphere CloudBurst appliance, the Rational Automation Framework for WebSphere is a complementary part to help your team administer and configure applications on the appliance."

In addition to the CloudBurst framework announcement, IBM Rational also unveiled a series of software delivery products focused on enhancing collaboration among developers. These include IBM Rational Team Webtop, an integrated user front-end for the platform powered by IBM's Jazz technology platform. Team Webtop will help increase communication and productivity throughout these extended product design teams by presenting information from multiple software delivery tools across the workflow in a single Web-based view.

IBM Rational DOORS is also being enhanced with new features that will enable teams to avoid paper-based review processes by managing the complex and multi-layered requirements of smart products and systems of systems through an easy-to-use Web interface. The new version of DOORS enables an expanded set of stakeholders to review, analyze and modify requirements data using the Web.

IBM also said its Rational Change and Rational Synergy offerings are being updated to help companies improve application quality by more accurately and efficiently identifying the specific stages of complex, multi-step processes used when developing smarter products.

A new version of IBM Rational Team Concert, based on IBM Jazz, will provide new levels of scalability and security to enable collaborative, agile development among distributed product teams. In addition, select Rational systems development products will be integrated into Jazz, providing greater collaboration across the development lifecycle, which will allow people to work together regardless of location.

"IBM acquired Rational 6 years ago, and the original intent of that was to strengthen our capabilities in software development-building applications and so forth," Hebner says. "Over the last 6 years, it's pretty much undergone a fundamental transformation. Now, it's much more about helping customers get greater value out of the investments they're making in software. Think of it as software investment management. More and more customers are beginning to view their software assets, their investments in software, as being strategic business assets. They're starting to put a much greater degree of governance around how they invest, where they invest, tying the whole organization together, and making sure they're doing the right things," Hebner adds.

"We've evolved to have a much broader set of capabilities," he continues. "If you're a customer, regardless of whether you're developing your applications, or you're acquiring them, like SAP, or you're leveraging reuse, services in the cloud, or open source, it's not only a matter of how you've accumulated all these software assets. Rational now helps provide all the best practices to help customers build a process, a business process, to get the most value out of all those software assets."

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