Rational Software Delivers Suites for Team Development

Anyone who has ever written a line of code knows that creating software is more than just programming. And when development projects grow, non-programming tasks can take up a large percentage of a team's time.

To help development teams complete their tasks more efficiently, Rational Software Corp. (www.rational.com) reorganized its products into four suites, each designed to meet the needs of different members of a development team. "Many customers would like to unify products in a single solution that they can deploy to support their teams," says Mike Devlin, CEO of Rational Software.

Rational Suite Analyst Studio is designed for business analysts who define the requirements of a project; Rational Suite Development Studio is for programmers; Rational Suite TestStudio serves quality assurance testers; and Rational Suite Enterprise Edition provides all the tools for teams whose job descriptions defy classification. Each suite contains tools that match a team member's specific needs.

Rational is the first vendor to differentiate its suites based on task, according to Dave Kelly, an analyst at the Hurwitz Group. "The optimization they've done for each role is unique and can be attractive," he says. "These types of lifecycle tools are typically being used by people within a specific role."

All existing tools were upgraded for the new suites. In particular, Rational released a new version of the Rational Rose 8i visual modeling tool. New features include tighter integration with Microsoft Visual Studio 6.0 and Rational ClearCase and new Web-based team development features. The company also added a new product, Rational TestFactory, which automates certain testing procedures.

Each suite contains the Rational Team Integration Architecture, which is designed to integrate team members, tools and data. It permits the team to manage all elements of a project as a single project, and eliminates redundancy between different types of data and different tasks. The architecture's features include the Rational Domain Server Interface, which allows Rational tools to access each other's data; the Rational Synchronizer, which creates artifacts in one tool based on rules and the existence of artifacts in another tool; and Tool Mentors and Extended Help, which inform team members about best practices for team development and the use of Rational tools.

Each suite can be installed from a single screen and contains a single support contract and license. Rational promises to maintain a common upgrade and release cycle for all products in each suite. Each suite's price reflects a 50 percent discount off the regular price of each tool in the suite.

Although the suites are stuffed with features, Hurwitz's Kelly says he'd like to see two more: a unified management console and ClearCase, Rational's configuration management tool.

The suites can operate on a mix of Unix and Windows machines. According to Kelly, Rational's suites are likely to be used on both platforms. "I see this as attempting to reach more into the enterprise, to the professional business developer market where you have those analysts," he says. While the majority of developers using Microsoft tools still work alone, Kelly adds that he has begun to see companies put together teams of five to 20 developers who all use Microsoft Visual Studio. "We are seeing more and more large organizations increase their use of Visual Studio and look for tools that wrap around that," he says.