IBM's Rational purchase strengthens EA inroads

IBM Corp.'s purchase of Rational Software Corp. will strengthen IBM's presence in the government market, particularly in regards to enterprise architecture, said Steve Mills, senior vice president of IBM during in a Dec. 6 conference call announcing the $2.1 billion deal.

"Rational gives us a new set of capability in people, skills, knowledge and government processes. This is a great acquisition to extend our reach into the government space," Mills said.

Rational's software is primarily used by developers to help build visual models of software under development. It utilizes a visual specification language called the Unified Modeling Language that allows developers graphically to see how components interoperate.

"The government space has been one of our best growth opportunities for the past 18 months," said Eric Schurr, who was the senior vice president of marketing for Rational and now will report to Mills.

According to Mills, the purchase will allow IBM to more deeply integrate Rational's development tools with IBM's own platform solutions, such as the Websphere line of application servers.

Even though UML's primary use is in software development, it is also being increasingly used to model business processes and systems organizations can use it to identify redundancies, the company said.

In the government arena, the Office of Management and Budget's Federal Enterprise Architecture Program Management Office specifies that agencies use UML to help build their enterprise-wide architectures, as mandated by the 1996 Clinger-Cohen Act. UML will help an agency align its procurement of technologies to its organizational requirements, according to the FEA-PMO charter.

UML also plays a role in the Defense Department's Architectural Framework, a defense initiative to integrate battle systems.

"Many people associate Rational as the primary creator of UML. We are known in the industry as the company to turn to for [UML] best practices around enterprise architectures. We think we're well positioned to play into that need for enterprise architectures," Schurr said.

Federal enterprise architecture has been a growth area for IBM Armonk, N.Y. In April, the company, teaming with American Management Systems Inc., Fairfax, Va., won a contract worth up to $100 million to develop a department-wide financial management enterprise architecture for the Department of Defense.

The Rational brand name will be maintained as one of IBM's product lines, along with WebSphere, Lotus, Tivoli and DB2.

Employing 3,400 people, Rational Cupertino, Calif., reported a net loss of $75.9 million against revenues of $690 million for fiscal 2002. The company was founded in 1981. The transaction is expected to completed in the first quarter of 2003, according to Mills.

About the Author

Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer News.

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