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The history of jStart started with the championing of Java technology for IBM and eventually evolved into an advocacy of emerging technologies.

By: Chris "Spence" Spencer

jStart History Timeline 1997-Present

The team has seen a number of technological innovations over the past decade, and has participated in exploring many of them. Here's a brief overview of the history of jStart, and the high points along the way:

The Beginning: Java Evangelism (1997-1998)

The jStart story begins at IBM Tivoli. As Tivoli evolved, a team dedicated to customer engagements was faced with a dilemma: it was being phased out. How could the team apply it's industry and client knowledge to help out IBM? Coincidentally, at the same time, a group within IBM was tasked with the job of advocating and championing a new technology the company believed would be strategic to it's future: Java. This lead to the initial mission of jStart: evangelize and validate Java as a commercial development platform through both internal IBM and external industry clients.

Java Adoption (1998-1999)

jStart's success in championing Java technologies was highlighted after the release of the Servlet Express Engine (from IBM Research) which the team leveraged to encourage the adoption of Java. That technology soon became the WebSphere Application Server. During this time, jStart was also working with creative thinkers internal and external to IBM to develop novel solutions. One example of this was the famous "Java Ring" (created by the former Dallas Semiconductor) as an authentication device. While the idea seems far fetched today, jStart engaged with a defense department contractor to explore its potential.

An Evolving Mission (1999-2002)

As the need for validation and adoption of open information exchange standards became increasingly important, jStart's mission began to evolve. Java was maturing, and new technologies like XML were emerging on the horizon. jStart moved from being an advocate of one technology (Java), to advocating emerging technologies as a whole--using it's experience in engaging with clients and customers to create real solutions for challenges businesses were facing in their every day operations. These efforts were greatly enhanced when the Advanced Technology Solutions group joined jStart, and the team was able to bring to the table not only their traditional advocacy and championing skills, but also a deep level of technical expertise.

jumpStarting Web Services (2002-2006)

As the post internet Bubble era began, the concept of distributed computing emerged as a technology gaining some traction. A group of IBM thought leaders began work on how exposing data from different applications--and even systems--could be made earlier. This built upon earlier Services Oriented Architecture (S.O.A.) work that the team had achieved...and led to the concept of combining three technologies to do it: SOAP, WSDL, and UDDI. With that, the advent of modern web services was born. Leveraging a partnership struck between IBM and Microsoft, the jStart team built upon its experiences with Java and XML to advocate web services and the power they provided, setting the stage for the groups' next efforts: Web 2.0.

Web 2.0, Mashups, and More (2006-2009)

As companies started leveraging the power of the web in more sophisticated ways, a number of opportunities for emerging technologies arose: jStart helped introduce rich web interfaces (AJAX, Lazlo, Flex) to the market with the belief that web apps no longer had to be inferior to their desktop counterparts.

In addition, the team realized that web applications had some inherent advantages (building on it's early data consumption work with web services) that desktop apps simply could not match: jStart's work in situational apps soon followed. The team also started to branch out and create technologies for market opportunities it had identified...the first technology jStart created was MashupHub (later incorporated into IBM's Mashup Center).

The Era of Big Data (2009-2011)

Beginning in 2009, jStart started advocating and engaging clients with big data technologies. Dealing with tremendous amounts of data was a challenge virtually every company faced, from dealing with customer sentiment, to understanding business opportunities that their data might have buried within vast amounts of customer activity data, big data represented a big business opportunity for clients big and small. Two technologies jStart field tested from their early inceptions to eventually rolling into the IBM product portfolio included IBM BigSheets, software that line-of-business professionals could use to access big data and visualize opportunities within that data, and LanguageWare, a technology developed out of IBM's Dublin Research labs and commercialized by jStart, was formally made part of IBM's Content Analytics solution. In 2011, BigSheets was included as part of the IBM InfoSphere BigInsights offering.

Watson, Systems of Engagement, and Social Data Analytics (2011-2012)

2011 was a significant year for jStart in another regard: it was selected, along with the rest of the IBM Software Group's Emerging Technologies team to be the team to conduct the initial Watson commercialization efforts. The team has been closely working with the IBM researchers and developers responsible for the Jeopardy playing system as the Emerging Technologies team works to turn Watson into one of the most sophisticated data analytics and insight engines on the planet. The team expects this work to continue throughout 2012, when the team will turn over commercialization efforts to the newly announced dedicated IBM Watson solutions team. Later in 2012, the team started focusing in on Systems of Engagement, and specifically the transition IT organizations were facing while attempting to take advantage of big data and social analytics. The team continues to explore new technologies and emerging trends related to these topics.

The Evolution of the Cloud: Bluemix (2013)

As jStart's work with Watson, SoE, and Big Data matured, we realized that applying that expertise to the cloud would enable capabilities that previously were beyond the reach of cloud apps. Some old concepts (rapid application development) were married with new market drivers (social data analytics) to demonstrate how this new platform, eventually called Bluemix would allow for a seamless transition to cloud enabled technologies. At the start of 2013, jStart rolled out jStart Beacon, a demonstration technology which illustrated many of these concepts. As the year progressed, the team was pivotal in the launch of Bluemix: a next generation cloud platform.

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