Tap Your Full Potential with POWERful Software Development
Wes Simonds 120000EFD6 firstname.lastname@example.org | | Tags:  simonds application rational smith modernization development t wes software lifecycle systems enterprise power ibm management developer for william product-innovation
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It always surprises me to see tremendous potential go almost completely unrealized and undeveloped. A specific example: Recently I saw a YouTube video featuring a guitar worth somewhere north of a quarter million bucks. Yet the dealer who was trying to sell this guitar had recorded himself playing it with... a standard handheld video camera.
And I thought: ‘You know, if you want to sell a guitar worth $250,000, maybe you should record it with a microphone that costs more than $0.25.’
A similar argument, or so it seems to me, often applies to IT. Platforms are bought with a particular purpose in mind, and used for that purpose, but a relatively small added investment might radically increase their total value.
Take the case of IBM Power Systems. This platform offers an extremely advanced processor architecture, IBM's RISC-based POWER 7; advanced operating systems, including AIX (IBM's flavor of UNIX); top-tier virtualization capabilities that allow IT to allocate resources and manage whole workloads fluidly and a host of other strengths too numerous to list here.
So organizations that have made the investment in Power Systems certainly know what an outstanding IT service delivery platform it is. What may not be as clear to them, and should be, is what an outstanding IT development platform Power Systems can be as well.
By developing on Power, they can not only make their investment pay dividends to both sides of the development/operations divide -- creating and deploying better software, faster, and yet with lower costs and risks -- but also take major steps toward enterprise modernization.
FYI, RD 8.5 for P7 is IDE: TNG
That argument got a lot stronger this week because IBM's own integrated development environment (IDE) for this platform -- IBM Rational Developer for Power, Version 8.5 just shipped.
To get a sense of IBM's thinking in this area, I had a chat with William T. Smith, Market and Product Line Manager for IBM's Development Solutions for Power Systems Software.
‘We saw that many customers were developing their AIX or Linux on Power workloads on some other platform and then porting to AIX, often without optimizing them for Power,’ said Smith. ‘And we were concerned to see them spending premium dollars for Power's unmatched price-performance profile and other unique qualities of service, but then failing to fully exploit those. Many of them are still using green screen or textual tools, or spending time cobbling together and maintaining home-grown OSS-based tool stacks, and therefore not realizing the productivity and other benefits of using Rational Developer for Power. So our goal for Version 8.5 was to have Rational Developer for Power start to play a central role in helping customers exploit AIX and Linux on Power to their fullest.’
I knew exactly what he meant by ‘green screen or textual tools’ because I recall using such IDEs in my distant youth. And the memory gives me no pleasure. There was not very much troubleshooting and productivity, and quite a lot of vertical scrolling and swearing.
It seems to me that last-millennium development tools like that are bound to act like an anchor hung from the development team's neck -- not really the best choice if the goal is to increase business agility. Which, for most businesses today, is a very familiar goal indeed.
But the new Rational offering goes far beyond graphic visualization, which has been part of the solution since 2010.
‘This new release delivers three main new capabilities: a new Performance Advisor, a new, highly scalable code coverage analysis capability and a new Porting Advisor,’ said Smith. ‘Together these raise Rational Developer for Power's value proposition in the AIX and Linux on Power space in a profound way. Rational Developer for Power becomes not just an IDE, but an Integrated Development, Porting and Optimization Environment.’
Let's suppose you happen to be a company that has already deployed IBM Power Systems. By deploying the new Rational IDE as well, you can...
That strikes me as a winning value prop. And if you happen to be an organization still using green-screen tools, such as Smith describes above, well, your programmers will likely clap you on the back and buy you a beer. Their professional lives will have taken a gigantic step forward into the intuitive, graphic development interfaces of the 21st century -- a very good place to be.
Do you feel the Power?
Let's talk briefly about the optimization capabilities. Among the new features of Rational Developer for Power 8.5, perhaps the most compelling is the new Performance Advisor. This provides key insight needed to leverage Power strengths to the max -- not just in terms of analysis and tuning, but also by performance data management in a larger, more holistic sense.
You can, for instance, directly compare profiles of different builds to identify slowdown, drilling down into the details (like the time spent executing different functions within those builds). You can generate intuitive scorecards that illustrate real-world performance at a glance. You also get recommendations for future changes, each one assigned an estimated probability that the proposed change really will pay off.
How's that for ‘key insight?’ It's no wonder that in its eight-month beta period, this capability was unanimously praised by all participants -- including many non-IBM organizations, of course.
Smith thinks very highly of this particular innovation as well.
‘The Performance Advisor really is something new and unique. Unlike other performance tools, it is very much designed for the development generalist, but it is also fueled by deep performance engineering expertise that reflects intimate knowledge of the internals of the Power architecture, the operating systems and the compilers,’ he said. ‘And in addition to being driven by expert advice, unlike other tools, it is also workflow-driven and deeply integrated into the IDE so that you can easily and naturally integrate the discipline and tasks of performance tuning into the routine development cycle.’
75 percent of the Earth is covered by water -- IBM Rational covers the rest
Another major attraction: the new code coverage analysis for C, C++ and COBOL (on both AIX and Linux).
Now, there are lots of code coverage solutions out there. They all help dev teams establish how thoroughly code has been tested and therefore how bug-free and feature-complete -- in short, production-ready -- it really is.
What the new IBM solution offers is exceptional scalability of code coverage. No matter how large the codebase, the builds or the test coverage goals, Rational Developer for Power 8.5 is up to the job -- all with little to no perceived impact on developer productivity or application execution time. And in the enterprise, where the codebase and coverage requirements often trend very high, that kind of scalability is absolutely must-have.
For organizations that are looking to migrate C, C++ or COBOL software across platforms (read: to AIX/Linux on Power Systems), there's also the new Porting Advisor to ponder.
Using this tool, which leverages both static code analysis and expert system rules, developers can discover what kinds of issues are likely to turn up during the port, including such commonplace examples as big-endian vs. little-endian encoding, 32-bit vs. 64-bit processing requirements and signal-handling. Then, given that reconnaissance, the actual porting process can be orchestrated more easily and quickly -- a high-quality transition that results in a high-quality outcome.
Finally, if you happen to be using IBM's System i platform, the good folks at Rational have got your back there, too.
‘It's true,’ said Smith, ‘that we did put a great deal of emphasis on AIX and Linux in this release, but that doesn't mean we overlooked our IBM i customers. (And by the way: props to them for seeing the elegance in how IBM i is integrated and optimized to simplify development of business applications.) There are several goodies in this release for them, such as the integration of the Remote Systems Explorer with IBM Data Studio, support for multiple build specifications and a new live outline view for RPG.’
See how Enterprise Modernization helps you get more out of what you’ve got
Simplify your application lifecycle management
Get up to speed on IBM Rational Developer Version 8.5
Try out IBM products in the Enterprise Modernization Sandbox for Power Systems
Watch videos that highlight features of IBM Rational Developer on Power
About the author
Guest blogger Wes Simonds worked in IT for seven years before becoming a technology writer on topics including virtualization, cloud computing and service management. He lives in sunny Austin, Texas and believes Mexican food should always be served with queso.