IBM Gentrifies Rational Toolset With UrbanCode

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2013-04-28

IBM Gentrifies Rational Toolset With UrbanCode

IBM’s acquisition of UrbanCode gives Big Blue an end-to-end story for software developers to take software production from the idea stage all the way through to delivered code.

IBM on April 22 announced its acquisition of UrbanCode. Based in Cleveland, UrbanCode automates the delivery of software, helping businesses quickly release and update mobile, social, big data, cloud applications.

The name UrbanCode brings to mind some sort of gentrification project. And adding the company to IBM does just that–it gentrifies IBM’s Rational tool suite, putting additional software delivery and DevOps capabilities into the mix. IBM added Telelogic to its dev tools fold five years ago to enhance its ability to support customers building software for complex systems such as an aircraft’s radar system or a car’s anti-lock braking system. Now Big Blue adds UrbanCode for its software delivery and DevOps capabilities.

UrbanCode’s software is a natural extension of IBM’s DevOps strategy, designed to simplify and speed the entire software development and delivery process for businesses, said Peter Spung, IBM's strategy director for Rational Software. The new capabilities also enhance IBM SmartCloud and IBM MobileFirst initiatives by making it easier and faster for clients to deliver software through those channels. For example, by combining UrbanCode software with the IBM Worklight technology, businesses can now author and deploy an application for any mobile device in hours, versus a previous multi-day timeline. The UrbanCode solution also works with traditional applications including middleware, databases and business intelligence.

“The fundamental driving force here is that developers want to reduce the friction and the false boundaries between development and deployment and UrbanCode is at the forefront of the DevOps evolution,” said Al Hilwa, an analyst with IDC. “IBM is clearly constantly injecting new technologies in its stack. UrbanCode is a great fit because it provides a lot of deployment technologies that IBM can integrate into its broad portfolio of development and deployment technologies. UrbanCode dovetails with what IBM is doing in enterprise mobility and builds on other acquisitions they have made in that space, such as Worklight.”

Mobile, social, big data and cloud technologies are driving demand for new, faster and more frequent approaches to software delivery, Spung said. Waiting days or even months to get an update to clients is no longer acceptable. With UrbanCode’s technology, businesses can reduce the cycle time it takes to get updates or new applications into market, from months to minutes. This approach is designed to help reduce cost and risk, while helping address changing client needs by enabling a company to rapidly incorporate feedback into and improve the overall quality of their applications and services.

“When customers want to create an advantage in the marketplace, they’re using software more and more,” Spung said. “The more successful companies are the ones that have a solid software development strategy. With the addition of UrbanCode, we’re telling customers we have a very complete set of capabilities. We have an end-to-end solution to help you speed up development time and automate much of the process.”

Indeed, a recent study by the IBM Institute for Business Value showed that almost 70 percent of companies using software development for competitive advantage outperform their peers in profitability. As innovation in software becomes more and more critical to success, businesses need a collaborative, intuitive and continual approach to development, testing and delivery. That study, entitled “The software edge: How effective software development and delivery drives competitive advantage,” can be found here.

“Companies that master effective software development and delivery in rapidly changing environments such as cloud, mobile and social will have a significant competitive advantage,” said Kristof Kloeckner, general manager of IBM Rational Software, in a statement. “With the acquisition of UrbanCode, IBM is uniquely positioned to help businesses from every industry accelerate delivery of their products and services to better meet client demands.”

“Together UrbanCode and IBM technology will be unmatched in the industry, providing businesses a continuous process for developing, testing, and delivering new and updated software," said Maciej Zawadzki, CEO of UrbanCode, in a statement. "By removing the bottlenecks that traditionally exist between development teams and production systems, businesses can drive rapid innovation."

IBM Gentrifies Rational Toolset With UrbanCode

More than half of surveyed companies for that IBM study said they agree that effective software development is crucial to competitive advantage. Yet, only a quarter of companies stated they have effective methods. UrbanCode’s capabilities will help solve this execution gap with the ability to accelerate software delivery.

“What we found overall is that companies believe software development will continue to play a part in competitive advantage,” said Eric Lesser, research director at IBM Institute for Business Value and one of the authors of the recent IBM study. Companies in the financial services, retail and telecommunications industries appeared to grasp this more than others, he noted.

Moreover, “There was 54 percent of the companies who said they believe software is critical and 32 percent who called it moderately important–so that’s 86 percent of the respondents saying software is either critical or moderately important and that points to the need for better tooling for software development and delivery,” said Randy Newell, director of capabilities marketing for IBM Software Group with a focus on the Rational brand.

“UrbanCode’s primary solution is its application release automation (ARA) software which speeds the delivery of software updates, fixes, etc.,” Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT, told eWEEK. “That makes it a good fit for IBM’s SmartCloud and Worklight platforms, where the company says UrbanCode will first be used. But the enhanced speed and automation of UrbanCode could improve a variety of IBM’s commercial offerings, like its Rational DevOps solutions. Plus, it should also beneficially impact the company’s internal processes. People tend to forget that IBM employs tens of thousands of developers--last time I heard, a couple of years ago, the total was north of 40,000. So the value of a deal like UrbanCode can extend beyond its direct impact on the bottom line to how it will enhance the performance and efficiency of IBM’s own product development processes.”

IBM plans to continue to support UrbanCode clients and enhance their technologies while allowing these organizations to take advantage of the broader IBM portfolio.

UrbanCode makes uDeploy, an application deployment automation tool, and announced uBuild, an enterprise class build automation tool. The company’s other products include uRelease, uProvision, Terraform and AnthillPro.

In January, UrbanCode announced it had reached record numbers in 2012, with over 100 percent growth in sales, and over 55 percent growth in the number of employees. As a result, the company increased sales projections for 2013.

Zawadzki said companies who frequently build, deploy and release applications have recognized the cost-effectiveness of taking a DevOps approach to application lifecycle management (ALM), and are realizing the need for tools that help them achieve maximum benefits.

“Clearly the whole release cycle of mobile and cloud software is different than ‘traditional’ systems,” said Jonathan Yarmis, principal analyst at the Yarmis Group. “We used to have plenty of time to plan rollouts over the course of weeks and even months, and did it only once a year if that. With cloud and mobile release cycles often being measured in weeks, it's imperative that testing and deployment cycles be radically streamlined. While this may be thought of as leading edge today, it will be the norm by the end of the year. Things are changing that fast.”

Meanwhile, "UrbanCode took a leadership position in 2012 by offering a comprehensive DevOps tool chain," Zawadzki said in a statement. "The plan for 2013 is for continued product leadership with significant enhancements to uDeploy, uBuild, uRelease, and the introduction of uProvision in order to round-out our family of DevOps tools."

UrbanCode's DevOps tool chain enables organizations to deliver to production faster, more often, and with fewer errors. For complex and mission-critical application development, UrbanCode's solutions provide scalability, decreased time to market and accelerated pace of innovation. UrbanCode's thousands of users from organizations including Wells Fargo, Fidelity, Wal-Mart, Disney and Expedia, benefit from integrated best practices consulting, deployment and training services.

Rocket Fuel