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First impressions

I've been at IBM for one month now and I'm just now starting to settle in and make some progress. I'm going to try to work some blogging back into my schedule and tell you about what I'm doing at work. For starters, here's a quick summary of my first impressions.


I'm working in IBM's Rational division, home of software development tools from compilers and SCM systems to UML modeling tools and IDEs. The developers I've met in person here have been smart, mostly young and very web savvy folk working on Jazz and emerging technologies.

I've been pretty happy to find the same culture of transparency that I found at Sun, at least in the groups I've interacted with. The Jazz team shares everything via blogs, wikis, makes source control and issue tracking available to the public even though it is not an open source project. I've found IBM's centrally hosted internal blogs, social bookmarking and community sites, many of which are powered by Lotus Connections, to be really useful. So far, the "corporate culture" isn't really all that different than what I saw in Sun, but I've only been here a month.


All of the software I use on a daily basis has changed. I feel like I'm living in an alternate universe. I'm using Lotus Notes for email, calendar and SameTime instant messaging instead of Mac Mail, Calendar and GTalk. I'm using Eclipse and Websphere instead of Netbeans and Glassfish, DB2 instead of MySQL and blogging with Lotus Connections instead of plain old Roller. I'm adjusting pretty well I think; took me about a month. I've heard lots of complaints about Notes in IBM and elsewhere, but it is nice to have everybody hooked into integrated mail, calendar and instant messaging. At Sun everybody seemed to be using a slightly different set of communication tools.

My first assignments involve Jazz (see also From the Eclipse Platform to Jazz), which is new architecture and foundation for Rational's product line. Rational Team Concert (RTC) and two other products so far are built on Jazz which provides a repository, source code control, integrated bug tracking as well as infrastructure for RESTful web services interfaces and an Ajax-based clients ends. The Web UI and the Eclipse UI are great and that's what makes RTC a pleasure to use. And unlike pretty much every other piece of software I've dealt with here Jazz is very easy to install.

The Jazz internals are pretty interesting too and another alternate universe for me. The architecture is basically the Eclipse plugin architecture, powered by the Equinox OSGi container and running in Eclipse, in a Servlet Container and in the browser. The whole system is made up of OSGi bundles and each bundle is also an Eclipse plugin. This is true for the Java code and the Dojo-powered JavaScript code in the web-client because Jazz includes the necessary infrastructure for JavaScript OSGi bundles. I've got to become an expert on this stuff, and fast.


Big changes here as well. I've been working from home for almost 5 years so it's great to have local co-workers and an office. IBM has a couple of huge complexes in the Research Triangle Park (RTP), which is about a 20 minute drive for me. The building I'm in is basically a giant cube farm, but it's modern, set in the woods with lots of windows and the cubes are very nice, as cubes go. The cafeteria is reasonable and about like the one at Sun's California campuses. Much of the Jazz team works here in RTP, which is convenient for me, but my immediate co-workers on the CTO team are scattered around the country. Like Sun, most folks seem to do a mix of office and work-from-home and I'm doing the same.

You can probably tell already that I like the job a lot and I haven't even told you what I'm working on yet. I'll have to start telling you about that in a later post.


I'm glad you like your new gig. It's a shame to see Sun loosing good people like you and now getting snatched up by Oracle. (p.s. I think you meant to say 'the "corporate culture" isN'T really all that different')

Posted by Sean Gilligan on May 02, 2009 at 11:25 PM EDT #

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