Sunday, April 13, 2008

IBM Acquires Telelogic 2

After several months of internal discussion, IBM has finally explained how the Telelogic acquisition (announced in June 2007) is going to be folded into the Rational brand. I have just listened to an analyst call with Danny Sabbah (general manager of Rational) and Neeraj Chandra (EVP of Telelogic).

Let’s take the minor headlines first. IBM has announced three main areas of integration across the extended product family.
  • end-to-end, extensible, open standards-based platform
  • community-based collaboration
  • preserve and protect client investments in Rational and Telelogic products

This seems to be about interoperability between the different products, interworking between teams using different products and upward compatibility (i.e. no forced migration) of client models and other assets built using the different products. These are the inescapable challenges of software industry consolidation, which IBM and its customers are very familiar with.

But it’s the other three headlines that are the interesting ones, because they reveal what IBM thinks it is gaining from the Telelogic acquisition. According to IBM, the Rational product family is extended in three main areas:
  • systems with embedded software
  • product lifecycle management
  • enterprise architecture
with an emphasis on sectors with complex requirements for systems and software
  • electronics
  • aerospace & defense
  • automotive
  • telecom

What I find interesting about these two lists is what they leave out.

Firstly, requirements management doesn’t get a headline mention. Requirements management was a major strength of Telelogic, and DOORS is the market leading tool. Perhaps we are supposed to believe that Rational already had a perfectly adequate approach to requirements management, and Rational System Architect works fine, thank you very much, except in a couple of specialist areas (systems engineering, product engineering).

Secondly, it ignores the current push towards enterprise architecture in other sectors, notably Government, where I understand Telelogic’s System Architect tool (ex-Popkin of course) has a significant presence. (The IBM materials mention DODAF and MODAF but not TOGAF, FEA, or xGEA.)

And thirdly, not much mention of SOA, except as an enabling technology for back-office systems. Telelogic System Architect had come out with an SOA-enabled version shortly before the acquisition announcement, but it isn’t yet clear where this is going. Danny Sabbah did mention expanding the opportunities for Telelogic's architectural frameworks products in the SOA space, but this seemed to be in reference to sales rather than development.

There are two domains in play, according to IBM: an IT domain (supporting business operations) and a systems domain (producing products). Although Neeraj Chandra wanted us to know that Telelogic could contribute to the IT domain as well, the official Rational line seems to be that the Telelogic is to be used primarily in the systems domain.

For systems domain read systems-of-systems domain. Examples cited include aerospace systems and consumer electronics, where interoperability between multiple systems is needed to solve a complex requirement.

But as I have long argued, SOA itself is essentially a systems-of-systems approach – interoperability between multiple services to solve complex sets of requirements. So I hope IBM doesn’t intend to bury SOA somewhere in the IT domain. Shouldn't there be a separate services domain?

There are of course plenty of outstanding questions. In answer to a question on reuse, Danny talked briefly about architectural governance, but I'd like to have a much longer conversation about this. And Neeraj mentioned methodology and workflow, but it wasn't clear how any of this gets plugged into RUP (or perhaps RUP/SE).

I do think the acquisition of Telelogic gives IBM Rational a tremendous opportunity, but clearly they have plenty of work to realise this opportunity. Certainly not the end of the story.

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