IBM has built a team of experts on "devops," a hot, emerging approach to fast enterprise application development, and developed a collection of tools for deploying IT operations to the cloud.
Devops is a set of practices for accelerating the development and release cycle of software applications, by pairing the development team with the operations teams, tightening the feedback loop so the software can be updated more quickly. Often, large, highly competitive Web-facing services, such as Pinterest or Facebook, will update their services many times in a single day in a devops approach.
About 60 percent of chief information officers plan to use devops to manage the development of their software and systems, IDC has estimated.
IBM's new DevOps Innovation Services offering, which includes guidance and software tools, can help an organization assess its own operations so it can reconfigure its workflow in a more fast-paced devops style. IBM can look for bottlenecks across the whole development process, including how the organization may handle core development, testing, release, and deployment of its new applications.
"Application development in the enterprise is transforming into a much faster moving collaborative set of devops workflows, and IBM appears to be making adjustments to its established portfolio to accommodate this shift," wrote Al Hilwa, IDC analyst for software development, in an e-mail exchange.
The DevOps Innovation Services can look for ways to reduce set-up time and costs for developing a complex application. It can help the organization create hybrid clouds, aiding in the development of a full software stack for running a private cloud, and helping the organization connect into IBM's cloud offerings.
Nearly half of all enterprises will be using hybrid clouds by 2017, IBM estimates. A hybrid cloud uses some public cloud resources in conjunction with a private cloud architecture, where the organization runs services in house, for compliance, security, cost, or other reasons.
IBM has been ramping up its set of cloud services with gusto this year, rivaling the rapid growth of other cloud providers, such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and the Google Cloud Platform. IBM has invested $7 billion in 17 acquisitions since 2007 to prepare its cloud services, such as its acquisition of SoftLayer last year. It now offers more than 100 software services. The company has garnered over 30,000 clients around the globe.
On the software side, the company now offers a dedicated single-user version of Bluemix, the company's set of platform services. This private instance of Bluemix, called Bluemix Dedicated, allows developers to build applications in a secure hosted environment, using their private on-premise data, while being able to configure the services to meet with compliance, regulatory and performance requirements.
Hosted in an IBM cloud data center, Bluemix Dedicated will initially offer four services: A database service, a data caching service, a messaging service, and a set of runtimes for various programs.
"IBM is also smartly making [Bluemix] offerings available in private cloud settings for on-premises deployment because for the foreseeable future there is a big opportunity for enterprises to leverage this cloud-enabled assets in their own data centers," Hilwa wrote. "It is interesting to see how the company is choosing to offer selected hybrid offerings where the opportunity makes sense."
The company has also launched a catalog of API (application programming interfaces) of Bluemix services, providing a way for in-house applications to call out to IBM services. For instance, an organization could use IBM's database service to keep data for mobile clients. Or, a retailer could use IBM's geolocational services to push notifications to its customers based on where these people are located.
Microsoft also recently added application lifecycle tools to its Azure hosted cloud offerings.