In addition, Big Blue announced that Bluemix, which was delivered as a preview at IBM’s Pulse 2014 conference in February, will become generally available at the end of June. IBM made the announcements at its IBM Innovate 2014 conference here. The key theme at IBM Innovate is “[email protected]”
Bluemix, IBM’s open cloud platform, is based on an open standards foundation, Cloud Foundry, and provides developers access to IBM’s software, known as middleware, for integration, security, transactions and other key functions, as well as software from business partners. As a result, it can help developers to connect two broad categories of systems in a hybrid cloud environment: systems of record, such as core banking and accounting systems, and systems of engagement, such as mobile, situational and social apps.
“IBM has been building middleware for many years,” said Steve Robinson, general manager of cloud platform services at IBM, during the general session at IBM Innovate 2014. Moreover, “In the fall, we’ll let you publish your own services to Bluemix,” Robinson said.
The new services IBM introduced are built upon IBM’s strengths in big data, analytics and open standards. The services include AppScan to build security by design via rapid testing in multiple environments and shared results; embeddable reporting services to build advanced analytics within an app from the moment its provisioned–turning volumes of big data into actionable feedback; workflow services to orchestrate cloud services, evolving workflows based on their behavior; and continuous delivery Pipeline services to enable organizations to manage multiple application releases simultaneously, giving them the increasingly competitive advantage of rapid, accurate software delivery.
Meanwhile, businesses from startups to large enterprises touted their use of Bluemix to help deliver projects faster and more efficiently. The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) organization talked about how they dramatically reduced the expected delivery time of its pilot mobile app from months to weeks. GE Capital said it has built a banking Website and other apps with unexpected speed; Financial Insurance Management Corp. (FIMC) said it rapidly created a mobile app to increase renewal rates by 30 percent; and startups MyMenu and aPersona said they are scaling core business apps with improved speed and innovation.
“Since Bluemix was launched just three months ago, we’ve seen a rapid ramp-up of third-party and IBM services available to developers who want to use DevOps in the cloud to create composable, enterprise-class apps,” said Steve Robinson, in a statement. “Much of this evolution stems from work we’ve done with clients and our collaboration with our growing, open standards-based ecosystem. We can expect this momentum to continue as a bigger share of nearly 18 million developers globally move the bulk of their app development to the cloud.”
BART is a public, rapid transit system serving the San Francisco Bay Area. Working with IBM business partner Synchrony Systems, BART will pilot Bluemix DevOps to reach into the troves of data in its expansive physical infrastructure of 44 stations, 104 miles of track, sensors, maintenance systems, trains and more, and plans to use this intelligence to build and deploy a mobile app allowing BART supervisors to track real-time train data via mobile updates,” IBM said. “By combining DevOps capabilities with Bluemix’s secure connection to back-end data, BART’s previous estimates as to the time it will take to complete its first mobile app have drastically changed.”
“BART has a huge volume of incredibly valuable information living in its infrastructure: from trains to tracks to maintenance reports,” said Slavik Zorin, CEO of Synchrony Systems, in a statement. “We are looking to the Bluemix DevOps model to give us the tools we need to rapidly tap all of this important data into a new, interactive mobile platform for BART to roll out to its mobile workforce–improving maintenance response and providing better service.”
GE Capital, the financial services unit of General Electric, recently aimed to accelerate software delivery and optimize the resources of top IT talent, allowing them to create products such as the company’s Fleet Optimizer, an analytics app that enables vehicle fleet managers to optimize performance. The company built a DevOps platform, deploying build, test and production cloud environments accessible to global teams – drastically increasing visibility through real-time dashboards and continuous feedback, and speeding deployment of predictive analytics apps, Websites and other software, with Bluemix.
“We built software and apps, such as our award-winning bank – GECapitalBank.com – from scratch in weeks to months – instead of months to years,” said Snehal Antani, CIO of Enterprise Architecture at GE Capital Americas. “By bringing together a strong IT foundation based on DevOps, we can execute and deliver requirements faster – giving us the agility of a startup with the resources of a large enterprise.”
IBM Soups Up Bluemix With New Services, Customers
Meanwhile, startup MyMenu uses cloud, mobile DevOps and analytics to bring customer feedback to restaurants. MyMenu is a mobile food ordering company whose mobile app allows customers to search for restaurants, menu items and/or ingredients, order food and give feedback. As a Bluemix beta tester, the company accelerated the launch of its app by allowing developers to quickly iterate in a cloud-based environment, as well as create and manage new restaurant-specific data reporting tools with mobile testing, big data and analytics services.
“The users of our app range span a large range of ages, job functions and more – yet each of their feedback is incredibly important to improving our app,” said Mike Little, CEO of MyMenu, in a statement. “Using Bluemix mobile and analytics tools, our users simply shake their phones when an issue is detected, and this info is automatically sent to the Bluemix cloud – making it easier for us to get upgrades to the market quickly.”
Another startup, aPersona, moved its security app to Bluemix to scale from small startups to enterprises. aPersona is an app security startup providing multi-factor authentication to Websites, e-commerce, cloud portals, utility networks and more. Deploying their products onto Bluemix in just two days, aPersona’s developers were able to quickly create multiple development and test environments, and built a tokenless, invisible authentication solution which scales and supports apps of all sizes.
“Hackers thrive in the gaps that can exist between convenience and commerce,” said Kelly Sparks, CEO of aPersona, in a statement. “By combining our adaptive multi-factor solution with Bluemix’s open development environment and security services, and offering it via the platform, we’re now able to offer an incredibly secure authentication solution available to anyone from a one-person startup building on Bluemix to the largest enterprise.”
Finally, in the case of insurance provider FIMC, using Bluemix DevOps, IBM business partner PointSource worked with FIMC to build a mobile interface that connects clients to on-premise business applications, giving them access to one-touch roadside assistance, targeted promotions, claim submissions and deductible management, as well as a channel to interact with FIMC via social media for faster and more direct communication.
“Before implementing our mobile platform, our members sometimes did not realize some of their most valued services – such as roadside assistance or discounts – had expired, and we wanted to streamline the renewal process to ensure more continuous service,” said Scott Liberatore, CEO of FIMC, in a statement. “Now we have an engagement model that reaches members directly, and we’ve increased our customer renewal rate by 30 percent.”
For its part, IBM also announced new DevOps services for hybrid cloud models. By connecting data from systems of record to new applications and agile processes, users can increase visibility across the delivery and feedback cycle, balancing cost, security and quality concerns with rapid deployment speed.
The new services include continuous testing, release and deployment services, which include applying advanced analytics to gauge mobile app user sentiment and quality; as well as the ability to build and manage app quality on multiple platforms (i.e. iOS, Android) simultaneously.
IBM also announced new continuous business planning and collaborative development services such as Rational System Architect for open communication and analytics between teams to manage change faster; Collaborative Lifecycle Management to offer a ten-fold performance improvement in reporting services; as well as Rational DOORS to increase transparency and traceability of requirements.
“Organizations today are finding they need to quickly build and shift to mobile, social and cloud-based apps to differentiate customer experience. However, the best apps often need to reach into the volumes of data held behind the firewalls of organizations’ infrastructures,” said Kristof Kloeckner, general manager of IBM Rational Software, in a statement. “IBM’s DevOps approach helps teams connect that information to build better systems of interaction with both speed and high quality.”
Meanwhile, IBM said Bluemix helps collapse the distance between idea and production through instant access to the SoftLayer cloud infrastructure, IBM software, runtimes and third-party services. Combined with IBM DevOps services, developers and line-of-business operations are able to work together and develop faster than traditional methods via integrating all organizational systems, simplified testing and quality assurance, and faster access to feedback. This allows the continuous delivery of apps through more intelligent use of app analytics, better management of projects, increased ability for market tests, and a more rapid release schedule of new features.
IBM’s expertise in Bluemix and DevOps services comes from its history of working across every global industry, building a portfolio reflecting a long tradition of responding to client needs and market shifts. This expertise culminates in Bluemix, with advanced services in security, big data, analytics, DevOps, mobile, Internet of things and more to create varying apps across a wide range of industries.
Through programs such as the new Bluemix Garage initiative and participation in the Cloud Foundry Foundation, IBM has been expanding outreach efforts to developers worldwide, a population expected to grow to more than 26 million by 2016. Bluemix developer meet-ups have been held globally in Asia, Latin America, Europe, India, Africa, North America and more, and IBM is also partnering with Strathmore University in Nairobi, Kenya, to expand cloud-based development education and training within Africa’s rapidly growing tech economies.