IBM Takes the Lead in App Dev for Hybrid Cloud: Ovum
Rob Enderle, founder of the Enderle Group, said IBM has historically had a good relationship with developers. but being historically more of a hardware company, IBM tended to be more insular than software companies—which wasn't a problem when IBM was dominant, but now that they aren't, it lowered the utility of their offering. "Now that they are more of a software company and embraced open source before firms like Microsoft did, they are a far more competitive cross-platform though the old stigma still sticks with them," Enderle said. "Their exposure largely is one of perception." When IBM made the pivot to software, the company also eliminated much of its marketing capability, which lowered its ability to convince customers they had changed, Enderle said. So they are hurt by perceptions, which largely aren't true anymore, that they are insular and hard to do business with, he added. "Perception is 100 percent of reality for all of us," he added.Yet, as a pioneer in building the Eclipse IDE and open-source foundation around it, IBM helped influence the modern developer landscape. "Consider the reams of headlines Microsoft received for its recent forays into open source, an area where IBM has invested billions since the mid-1990s," said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT. IBM also has a full lifecycle portfolio in software development tools, but as companies shift to open-source technologies and on-demand pricing, its traditional business has taken a hit, Hilwa said IBM's traditional software licensing business has been seeing long-term declines as reported in its quarterly financials; however, the company is working hard to acquire, integrate and transition to cloud new and existing IP that it is offering to modern developers on its Bluemix cloud, he noted. "The company has realized that it needs to do better outreach to modern developers and has been active recently in setting up startup garages all over the world," Hilwa said. "IBM has put together a much stronger evangelism program recently to put its technology and software development know-how in front of developers." Pund-IT's King notes that many of IBM's DevOps efforts occur "off camera" in areas like their significant open-source standards investments, DevOps tool development and nurturing developer communities. The company has been active in these areas for years. "So far as challenges go, the transparency of these efforts among the general public hinders IBM from getting the acknowledgement it deserves for these efforts," King said. "But that lack of public acknowledgement likely isn't a major issue for IBM so long as its enterprise customers recognize and continue buying the company's offerings."
Indeed, IBM is in the midst of a critical transformation, said Al Hilwa, an IDC analyst.