IBM Rational software was acquired by IBM in 2003, to become one of its leading software brands. For some time, the name itself intrigued me the most, and after diving into its different products, it made perfect sense to me: every result or impact yielded was the direct effect of applying a smart but rational twist to how things were done. All in all, IBM Rational allows you to change how you design, develop, and deliver software, to build more innovative products and services, beat your competition, shorten time to market, with lower costs and cut down risk. 

Each software project, whether large or small, undergoes certain phases, which combined are known as the Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC). There exist five stages in the SDLC model: Requirement Analysis, Design, Implementation (coding), Testing, Evolution (maintenance). Under the Rational suite, there are many products that are key for a smarter development environment and complement the development life cycle.

IBM has dubbed Enterprise Modernization a cornerstone in their Smarter Computing initiative, offering an approach in revitalization and continuous improvement of aging applications, empowering development using both existing and new skills with productivity enhancements, unifying teams to increase organizational agility across all platforms, and optimizing usage of IT infrastructure by freeing up capital and capacity needed to run critical, production applications – all with the goal of making breakthroughs in IT efficiency and innovation.

There are several families of IBM Rational products in which Enterprise Modernization plays an important role in:

Rational Asset Analyzer is an application discovery and impact analysis tool for improving your understanding and insight into relationships within and among System z and composite applications. Not only will it allow you to understand the code better, but it will also show you existing application inter-dependencies, meaning changes can be made with fewer mistakes and comprehensive testing, helping complete projects on time and within budget.

Rational Team Concert is a unified and collaborative multiplatform team infrastructure including support for System z and distributed systems to help streamline the entire application development and deployment life cycle across all operating environments. Following is a simplified example of why team collaboration is a very important parameter for a productive environment. Imagine a kitchen in a restaurant where dinner (source code) is being planned (designed). The chef (project manager) will hand out tasks (jobs) to the rest of the cooks (developers). Each will have to prepare his list of ingredients (requirements) and cook his dishes (artifacts). At the end, all dishes collectively leave the kitchen (lab) to form the dinner (end product). For this event to be successful the chef (project manager) needs to be aware of what each cook (developers) is working on, make sure that every one is in sync and that no duplicates are being cooked (developed), securing a smarter development environment. 
Rational Developer for System z helps make traditional System z development, web development, and integrated Service Oriented Architecture based multi-platform development faster and more efficient. It supports modern user interfaces and full web application processing and web services to integrate these application styles and processes together. It creates, maintains, debugs and deploys transactional and batch applications to the z/OS platform. It promotes the reuse and transformation of existing applications to help reduce costs and shorten the development cycle.  For all of us young mainframers, RDz offers a “GUI” interface to the good old green screen while adding great new features and capabilities.
Rational Development and Test Environment for System z provides a small-scale, unit test environment for developers who will be able to run z/OS and z/OS middleware on an Intel or Intel-compatible (x86) personal computer, thus bringing flexibility and reducing the cost of developing in a mainframe environment. The developer is now capable of building and testing new System z applications virtually at anytime and from anywhere. The z/OS features are still the same, however, developers can now create applications in the unit test environment before being released on the mainframe, hence shared mainframe environments or processes are left intact. Since the testing is run in the unit test environment, this means that mainframe development MIPS (million instructions per second) are spared for production capacity. 
Rational Host Access Transformation Services quickly transforms your 3270 and 5250 green screen applications to intuitive web, portlet, rich client or mobile device user interfaces, and extend 3270, 5250, and VT green screens as standard web services. 

The purpose of this post was to give you a quick overview of what IBM Rational software has to offer to the development world. More detailed follow up posts will be coming your way soon, so stay tuned and remember to always think Rationally.

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