IBM is responding to the
increased complexity of product design with a new development and delivery
platform that better integrates the software piece with the physical aspects of
mechanical and electrical engineering.
The new IBM
Rational software products, along with a new set of consulting services,
are designed to help teams building mechatronics products leverage software to
drive innovation and gain a competitive edge. According to a study by Aberdeen Research, 66 percent of product
manufacturers leverage software to drive product innovation, and of those
companies, those that have established a best-in-of-class competency in
software are infusing 4.4 times more software into their products.
"In the last five years, the means of innovation and
competitive differentiation for companies in every industry is coming through
the software," says John Carrillo, IBM's program director, strategic
solutions. "We're announcing a new software development platform which is
critically important for aligning collaboration in the development lifecycle.
That takes on new meaning, especially for the mechatronics world."
Just as Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) tools have helped
companies put processes around an integrated development lifecycle on the
physical side, the new IBM Rational tools promise to do the same for the
software elements. "Traditionally, in a lot of companies, the software
development organization has typically been the least aligned," Carrillo says.
"A lot of companies have done a great job implementing PLM tools and processes
to streamline the design of the physical parts of the products, but where they
still struggle is on the soft assets."
One of the centerpieces of IBM's new lineup is Rational Team
Webtop, a Web-based platform powered by its Jazz technology, which delivers a
portal-like view into an integrated environment comprising such disciplines as
requirements, testing and model-driven engineering. The Team Webtop portal
integrates previously siloed environments, allowing users to better understand
the impact of changes.
The IBM Rational DOORS requirements management tool has been
enhanced with new Web-based collaboration features that allow an expanded set
of stakeholders to review, analyze and modify requirements, avoiding much of
the cumbersome, paper-based review process that is still common among
development teams today. Finally, a new version of IBM Rational Team Concert,
also based on the Jazz technology platform, will provide new levels of
scalability and security to enable collaborative, agile development among
distributed product teams. IBM Rhapsody, the companies' model-driven system and
development tool, has also been updated with new agile workflow and modeling
"As we start talking about mechatronics and reliance on
embedded software, we see more and more companies interested in modeling," Carrillo
says. "Being able to visually characterize what the requirements are and what
the software is supposed to do from a functional perspective before someone
builds it â that's how you find bugs and design defects earlier in the process."
Accompanying the new Rational software, IBM opened its first
Solutions Experience Lab for Systems Engineering and Embedded Software at the IBM Innovation
Center in Waltham, MA.
Here, customers can explore design techniques using solutions from IBM and its
business partners. There are also new consulting services in this area from IBM
Global Business Services.