IBM Extends API Reach Across Emerging Cloud Ecosystem

Michael Vizard
Feb. 24 2014, 06:54PM EST

Moving to expand the reach of its API footprint in the cloud, IBM today announced the availability of an open beta for BlueMix. BlueMix is a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) offering that is based on the Cloud Foundry framework that IBM decided to support last year. IBM also announced the acquisition of Cloudant, a provider of a NoSQL database-as-a-service (DBaaS) platform.

BlueMix, via a series of open APIs, is designed to expose a set of services that developers can invoke to compose applications regardless of the application development language being used, according to Robert LeBlanc, IBM senior vice president of the IBM Software and Cloud Group, who spoke at the IBM Pulse 2014 conference today.

The goal is to build the next generation of applications by composing pre-integrated services, says LeBlanc. This will enable organizations to bring applications to market in 18 weeks rather than 18 months. To that end, BlueMix will initially expose 31 RESTful APIs to various IBM applications and services that will expand over time to include not only other IBM applications, but also a large ecosystems of third-party ISV partners, LeBlanc says.

Today, in addition to the open beta of BlueMix and the acquisition of Cloudant, IBM announced:

  • It has joined The Cloud Foundry Foundation, a new governing body for developing standards for the PaaS environment developed by EMC's Pivotal unit;
  • has become a member of the new JQuery Foundation;
  • is making it easier to identify software patterns running on premise that can be moved to the cloud;
  • is making its Cast Iron connectors available for the IBM Softlayer cloud; and
  • unveiled a new IBM Systems Management as a service offering that is intended to provide the foundation for managing DevOps across hybrid cloud computing environments.

All the IBM cloud offerings, including the Cloudant DBaaS platform, run on the SoftLayer cloud that IBM acquired last year. Leveraging OpenStack and more than 2,000 APIs exposed via the IBM SoftLayer platform, BlueMix and Cloudant collectively provide a foundation for developing applications. That foundation will make it easier to converge, for example, mobile application development and Big Data analytics in the cloud, as part of an investment valued by IBM at more than $1 billion, LeBlanc says.

IBM has a history of focusing on the needs of senior IT executives, but its investments in BlueMix and related acquisitions signal a shift in priorities—it's an acknowledgment that developers have emerged as a power brokers in an API economy that IBM wants to actively court. The degree of IBM's success remains to be seen, but over 4 million developers already participate in the IBM developerWorks program, which IBM plans to invite to 3,000 local events in 43 innovation centers around the globe. It’s clear that IBM is making a major resource commitment to attract their attention.

Michael Vizard

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