As a first step toward enabling new economic models for software consumption, today IBM launched an IBM Cloud marketplace, through which it and its partners will make software available to enterprise IT customers. In addition, IBM added that it is opening BlueMix Garage, physical locations where developers can collaborate on development of BlueMix applications.
Unveiled at IBM Impact 2014 conference, IBM also announced the availability of 30 additional BlueMix cloud services spanning everything from API management and DevOps services to data analytics.
Running on top of a BlueMix integration platform that IBM unfurled earlier this year, Jerry Cuomo, IBM fellow and CTO for WebSphere, says the IBM Cloud marketplace is the first step toward a major transformation of how software is purchased, consumed and distributed across the enterprise. At the moment, IBM is enabling customers to acquire cloud applications much like any other application marketplace. But as IBM and other software providers take greater advantage of the BlueMix RESTful APIs underneath the IBM Cloud marketplace, Cuomo says enterprise applications will essentially begin to devolve into a set of services that developers can use to create value-added applications on demand.
In effect, Cuomo says IBM is building an instance of an open API economy for software on top of BlueMix that will quickly evolve over the next several months. Besides IBM software, additional third-part software from SendGrid, Zend, Redis Labs, Sonian, Flow Search Corp, Deep DB, M2Mi and Ustream are already making software and service available via the IBM Cloud marketplace. In total, IBM says there are 100 SaaS applications available in the IBM Cloud marketplace.
Cuomo notes that obviously many existing packaged applications do not lend themselves to an online marketplace for services as well as others. As such, Cuomo concedes it will take a while for vendors to deconstruct their software in a way that lends itself to be invoked via RESTful APIs. IBM, says Cuomo, is betting that while that may lead to lower unit pricing for each software service, in sum total customers will wind up using a lot more software that is easier to consume. As a result, the business value generated by enterprise software delivered via RESTful APIs in the cloud should be greater as cloud application services continue to mature.
In the meantime, IBM is clearly lending its considerable weight to help drive the emergence of an API economy that Cuomo says must be open in order to both truly scale and ultimately succeed. At this point, however, it may not be a question of actually succeeding as much as it is determining how fast and to what degree that success will be accomplished.