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Methods & Tools - News, Facts & Comments Edition - October 2002

*** Companies ***********************************************************

* IBM likes Monday

July 30, IBM and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) announced that IBM would acquire PwC's global business consulting and technology services unit. The purchase price is $3.5 billion in cash and stock. PwC Consulting has estimated revenues of $4.9 billion in fiscal year 2002. Its 30'000 employees will be integrated in IBM's Global Services unit. PwC had previously plans to do an IPO (initial public offering) for its consulting and to rename it "Monday".

I think that this acquisition is a good bargain for IBM. Two years ago, negotiations between Hewlett-Packard and PwC were unsuccessful and the price was $18 billion. The acquisition price compares also favourably with more recent deals like the one between Cap Gemini and Ernst & Young. The challenge for IBM will be to keep the employees of PwC whose culture and ambitions (partnership) are different from a classic IT company.

The second question raised by this acquisition is how the competition will be defined in this world of consolidation. The customer will have to choose between buying a global solution offered by a one-stop vendor or integrating a best-of-breed solution. How to evaluate a hardware offer from PwC consulting, as it is an IBM's subsidiary, or from Accenture or EDS, as they are IBM's competitors? Can you believe that they will honestly choose what is the best for the customer, without thinking that it can help their competitors? How will they cooperate if there is a problem? (that is an easy one, just look now how different suppliers reject the blames on each other) The global market dominance aimed by giants like IBM, Microsoft or HP is also a real problem for vertically focused companies. They are now obliged to cooperate with direct competitors for some aspects of the solutions they are providing.


* Is WebGain a Looser?

WebGain, a software development tool vendor has sold during these last months most of its assets. In June, its Toplink tools for Java developers were acquired by Oracle. In August, TogetherSoft acquired WebGain Studio, a set of tools to develop Java applications. In October, it sold its Application Composer product to DigiSlice.

Let us start by saying that this text is not a criticism against WebGain, its management, its employees or its products. The sell-off of these assets is the evidence of the consolidation process that will continue in the Web development product sector. After the initial exuberance linked to the new market opportunities of Web development tools, big companies (like IBM with Websphere) have used their muscle to take market share and small one are running out of cash to sustain their activities in a difficult economic environment. Some companies like Allaire or SilverStream were happy enough to find buyers for the whole companies (Macromedia and Novell). Other will have at best to sell themselves in pieces or wait for companies "specialised" in financial recuperation of software assets, like Computer Associates for instance, to acquire them if there are enough captive licences to "milk".

*** In Other's Words ****************************************************

* Say no to Drugs!

McNealy holds that there's another reason customers will continue to rally around. Sun isn't IBM or Microsoft. Says he: "IBM goes in there and give away the services for a year or two until your brains are atrophied and then tries to help you get well later. We go in instead and help you build a strategy so you can execute. That requires a little more up-front investment, though in today's market IBM's approach seems a little more attractive. Microsoft does it a different way: The first hit of heroin is not free - they actually pay you for it. Look at their equity investments into customers like AT&T". An article of faith at Sun is that customers in industries like media, telecommunications and personal financial services will resist Microsoft technology because they fear the company.

Source: David Kirkpatrick, "Can the brash brothers bounce back", Fortune, June 17, 2002 / No 12

The CEO of Sun uses acid words to describe his competition. This could be explained by the specific position of Sun that could feel threatened by the current consolidation in the IT industry. There is surely a niche to exploit in being the "anti-" company, but I am not sure that the available market is big enough for Sun's ambitions... and current size!


* Fundamental Facts


P1. The most important factor in attacking complexity is not the tools and the techniques that programmers use but rather the quality of the programmers themselves.

P2. Good programmers are up to 30 times better than mediocre programmers, according to "individual differences" research. Give that their pay is never commensurate, they are the biggest bargain in the software field.


Q1. Quality is a collection of attributes. Various people define those attributes differently, but a commonly accepted collection is portability, reliability, efficiency, human engineering, testability, understandability and modifiability.

Q2. Quality is not the same as satisfying users, meeting requirements, or meeting cost and schedule targets. However, all these things have an interesting relationship: user satisfaction = quality product + meets requirements + delivered when needed + appropriate cost.

Q3. Because quality is not simply reliability, it is about much more than software defects.

Q4. Trying to improve one quality attribute often degrades another. For example, attempts to improve efficiency often degrade modifiability.


M1. Quality and maintenance have an interesting relationship (see Q3 and Q4).

M2. Maintenance typically consumes about 40 to 80 percent (60 percent average) of software costs. Therefore, it is probably the most important life cycle phase.

M3. Enhancement is responsible for roughly 60 percent of software maintenance costs. Error correction is roughly 17 percent. So software maintenance is largely about adding new capability to old software, not about fixing it."

Source: Robert L. Glass, "Frequently Forgotten Fundamental Facts about Software Engineering", IEEE Software, May/June 2001

These are some of the interesting (and sometimes perhaps provoking) ideas from Robert Glass. As he wrote, this could be the right material to start a discussion about some of the aspects of software engineering.


*** Web Siteseeing ******************************************************

* Open Source Software Development Tools

The open source movement has been an important force in the development of new software that is freely available. IDE (Integrated Development Environments), databases, web and XML servers, software configuration tools, compilers, you can find quite every type of software development tools in an open source version. Although open source software is closely related to Linux (an open source operating system), it is important to say that open source software also runs on other operating systems like Windows or Mac OS.

You will find here some pointers to interesting web sites. I do not have the (foolish) ambition to be exhaustive, but to give some starting points for your own research and experimentation. If you feel that something important is missing from this list, I welcome your suggestions for a "Part II" listing (The revenge of the unknown open source development software) to be published in a next issue... :-] Just use our [Contact] e-mail address.

- General resources - Open Source Initiative (OSI) manages and promotes the Open Source Definition - THE reference directory for open source projects - Apache community of open-source software projects - community of open source software development projects - Open source software community - Directory of open source projects using Java - Opensource development network - The open directory links to Linux programs

- Databases - The most used open source database - Open source version of Borland interbase

- Development tools - Sun's open source java development tool - IBM's open source development IDE - Open source Java/XML application server - Java based modelling tool to design using UML - Complete application development platform (language + relational database + components) - C/C++ IDE - J2EE-based Web application server - Regression testing framework to implement unit tests in Java


*** Conferences *********************************************************

11th imbus Software QA Day 2002

Software Quality Assurance and Costs, November 7 in Nuremberg

The annual imbus Software QA Day is an established forum for decision-makers and specialists in the field of software quality. Invited speakers address methods and trends in commercial software Quality Assurance. Costs and benefits of the presented techniques are discussed on the basis of actual experience.

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