IBM’s Rational Software Developer Conference kicked off it’s festivities in Orlando, Florida with lights, camera and plenty of action this morning.

The stage glowed under the beams of an impressive array of lighting technology, sporting more than thirty-six intelligent lights, and was backed by a frame of projected screens displaying videos from the RationalTube web site. Entertainment included comedian Mitch Fatel and Evolution of Dance creator and YouTube Megastar Judson Laipply.

The conference, which is in its 10th year is hosting more than 2700 attendees from all across the globe and interested in products across the range of Rational’s software portfolio. To accomodate the vast spread of different interests among delegates, IBM is running fifteen concurrent threads of sessions, ranging from requirements analysis, portfolio management, and of course application development using Rational tools. With close to half the sessions being conducted by customers and business partners, IBM are taking pains to emphasise their new community focus.

General Manager of IBM Rational Danny Sabbah made several announcements in his keynote address this morning, including the intention to acquire Swedish life cycle management firm TeleLogic, and the release of two new programs as part of the Rational Suite: Rational Asset Manager and the Rational Team Concert Beta, the first program to use the Jazz collaborative framework. “More and more of our customers are focusing on globalisation” he said, indicating a change in Rational’s focus to not just global development, but cross organisational development.

Sabbah spoke also about Rational’s determination to change to suit the demands of their customers, identifying total cost of ownership, customer responsiveness and the complexity of deployment as issues the company had to address. He pointed to recent developments in Web interfaces to Rational tools, lab advocacy and moving towards an open, web-based Request For Enhancement comment process as evidfence of this shift.

At the end of the day, it’s hard to know what to think without seeing the whole thing in action, and only time will tell how businesses take to the new direction Rational is pushing their products. If the sheer number of times the words “visibility” and “collaboration” were dropped into the announcements is any indication, you can be sure Rational is serious about including a new direction for their toolsets.

Posted by Nick Gibson.

Nick Gibson travelled to IBM Rational Software Developer Conference as a guest of IBM