Software development gets the ASP treatment

A deal between IBM and Catapulse has brought the application service provider (ASP) model to the online software development...

A deal between IBM and Catapulse has brought the application service provider (ASP) model to the online software development market, writes Danny Bradbury.

Online software development company Catapulse was launched in the UK in 1999. It has signed a deal with IBM Global Services to deliver its Hosted Development Service to the company, in return for Web hosting, hardware, software and systems integration services. Under the deal, IBM Global Services will use the Catapulse service as its main software development platform.

The service, which will be launched in the first half of next year, will focus on providing software development tools and services in an ASP-like environment. Catapulse will be signing deals with various development tools suppliers to provide ASP versions of their products.

The three main areas covered will be integrated development environments, fault tracking systems and visual modelling tools.

Dan Schiffman, Catapulse's chief operating officer, said the company will also be providing a unified project management interface, written by in-house staff. This will marry all the different tools together, with the aim of making the integration transparent to end-users.

"It is more than just software configuration management [SCM]. You can keep track of everything that is being done in that project - all of the accumulated knowledge," Schiffman said. "SCM tends to be optimised for source code. We are talking about everything that a project manager needs in order for it to work from conception to deployment."

Catapulse, which was set up by the founders of development tools supplier Rational Software, will use the Rational's Clearcase software repository as the basis for its component-based storage and management.

It will also use the XML Metadata Interchange (XMI) language as a means to exchange information between the different software development tools. This will be complemented by the Reusable Asset Specification - a component-based development information exchange protocol that Rational is developing and hopes to have adopted as an open standard.

While Catapulse is working on its ASP-based software development service, development tools supplier Aonix is preparing a similar offering.

Planned for launch within 18 months, Aonix's service, called Eonix, is still at an embryonic stage, while the company seeks venture capital funding. If, or when, it comes off, it will offer a non-technical development environment that can translate business information into code.

Aonix will team up with third parties, including tools suppliers and component developers, to offer the use of multiple development tools online. This offering will be extended to provide a marketplace for components to be used in new application development projects.

Such a market for reusable assets will be complementary to Aonix's ACD (Architecture Component Development) product, which uses a template-based system to capture business knowledge as the basis for software development.

The Web-based repository underlying Eonix will be a place to store business information and application modelling data alongside pre-built components.

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