“Rativo made real” was my first thoughts when I attended IBM’s Pulse in Las Vegas at the end of February 2011.  Rativo is the jocular combination of the Rational and Tivoli brand names often bandied about both internally and externally by the two IBM groups in recognition of their growing alignment and integration.

This does not take away from the fact that the heart of Pulse still very much centres on the Tivoli portfolio set. But as a veteran of past Rational Innovate conferences, the line-up at Pulse looked reassuringly familiar.  The new management team after the retirement of Tivoli’s long time General Manager, Al Zoller, at the end of January 2011 was without a doubt Rational flavoured.

Danny Sabbah, Tivoli’s new General Manager appeared on stage with a management team containing members from his Rational team holding similar roles within Tivoli.

Of course it is pure speculation on our part as to the ultimate future direction of both the Tivoli and Rational group. But given the strong focus on strengthening and improving the relationship and engagement between development and operations – commonly termed (DevOps) – and the consistent themes of integration and sharing of commoditised functionality, our conjectures are not without foundation.

As with many vendor led conferences, marketing rhetoric and messaging can sometimes make it hard to really get a grasp on the overall picture and execution strategy.

With Tivoli’s strong portfolio and direction for integrated service management, it makes sense that Danny Sabbah, brings with him his experiences and people from Rational software. At Rational they had to deal with the move from single products to an integrated suite and platform framework. But they also had to cater for and integrate strong support for cross team and stakeholder collaboration along with savvy contextual and socially aware user interfaces. All of this whilst maintaining a common architectural and services thread within an Integrated Development Environment.

Jazz, the end result, is by no means a finished platform, but the foundations are firmly in place and the roadmap well defined and established.  By bringing along some of his team from Rational, it is clear that Danny plans to leverage and deliver Rational’s common architecture and services strategy across the Tivoli portfolio. Consistency and conformity across the brands, as well as providing seamless integration and transition, is something that Tivoli customers in particular, but also the wider client audience as a whole, should welcome. As with anything that happens within a large vendor like IBM, the devil will be in the detail and the execution.

Pulse 2011 ultimately focused on a number of core themes: security, Cloud, management and provisions for greater insight through analytics. But perhaps the most significant of the announcements was the aspiration and vision towards Smarter Computing in order to maximise compute investment, enable future capacity and deliver new applications to support business growth and agility.  All achieved through optimised workloads within hybrid environments, the support for new delivery models like Cloud Computing and the handling of big, federated data.

Another area of focus for the conference was in addressing and improving the interface between the development and operations teams (DevOps) particularly with deploying to Cloud-based environments. The drive in this area emphasised better engagement and interaction support at release time, whilst providing strong insight into deployed assets and better process automation support. The spotlight was also firmly on security, especially in building out the group’s “secure by design” initiative and the strong underlying support for security in the portfolio.

Not all of the required information about Smarter Computing was delivered in Las Vegas.  It required a further Smarter Computing event at IBM’s labs in Boeblingen, Stuttgart one week later, to provide us with a deeper understanding of the focus and framework for Smarter Computing. However, what both the event in Stuttgart and in Las Vegas had in common was the central message that architecture and disciplined commitment form the core for Smarter Computing.

The customer support and references at Pulse 2011 was noteworthy both during the general keynote sessions and in the subsequent conference sessions with over 80% of them being directed from customer case studies.