IBM Celebrates 10 Years of AlphaWorks, Introduces New Services

As part of a birthday celebration for its online ideas department, IBM rolls out several new free Web services for developers.

SAN FRANCISCO—IBM gave its online cutting-edge ideas department,, a 10-year birthday party here Sept. 25, and at the same time introduced AlphaWorks Services, a new way to give businesses access to emerging technologies being developed at IBMs labs.

AlphaWorks founder John Patrick, an author and former IBM vice president who is now president of venture capital firm Attitude, was present for the occasion, along with IBM Vice President of Emerging Technologies Rod Smith, IBM General Manager of Developer Relations Buell Duncan and several other company luminaries.

"Since 1996, AlphaWorks has been one of the hidden jewels within IBMs software business," Duncan said. "It serves as a window for users to get a sneak peek into our R&D labs. AlphaWorks relies on early adopters to help shape IBMs innovations into todays market-leading products and open-source technologies."

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AlphaWorks Services will allow organizations to accelerate the pace of adopting these cutting-edge technologies by using Web-based software as a service delivery model, Smith said.

This promotes collaborative innovation among users, elicits immediate feedback to help IBM shape these technologies and deliver them to the marketplace more rapidly, and ultimately helps businesses remain on the forefront of advanced technologies, he said.

Using AlphaWorks Services, developers, businesses and universities can easily access emerging technologies over the Internet directly from IBMs R&D labs and provide real-time feedback to the technology owners, Smith said.

By creating this collaborative environment between IBMs R&D labs and the outside world, AlphaWorks Services will allow IBM to elevate its degree of responsiveness to the user, respond quickly to changing business needs and requirements, and deliver higher-quality software to the marketplace.

All the free IBM technologies reside at a centralized Web site.

As part of the announcement, IBM rolled out the first new technologies to be offered as a service:

  • ADIEU (Ad Hoc Development and Integration Tool for End Users): A simplified online tool for rapid collaborative development of Web applications and Web services that allows users to develop these applications in an environment designed for non-programmers, with an easy-to-understand interface.

For example, a company that finds it valuable to provide specific stock quotes for its customers can create a Web service in a matter of minutes and have the stock quote information optionally delivered as an RSS feed, Smith said.

  • WebRB (Web Relational Blocks): A visual, Web-based tool that allows consumers and developers to easily build enterprise Web applications through a simple browser interface. Components are dragged and dropped onto the canvas and then wired together to assemble the GUI.

For example, WebRB can be used to rapidly develop and deploy Web-based e-commerce applications such as shopping sites by simply adding the store features through the drag-and-drop mechanism.

  • Deep Thunder: Local, high-resolution weather predictions. For many businesses, such as transportation agencies or supply chain companies, expected local weather conditions are critical factors in planning operations and making effective decisions. Companies can use weather predictions from this tool to collaborate with other organizations and plan accordingly.

In 1996, IBM launched AlphaWorks to host emerging technologies that users could read about, experiment with, provide feedback for and build upon. AlphaWorks has given the outside world a unique peek into the work underway in IBMs R&D labs by highlighting the companys most cutting-edge work and providing it for free download.

Some facts and figures about AlphaWorks first 10 years:

160,000 — Number of unique visitors per month to the AlphaWorks Web site.

93—Number of Fortune 100 companies that downloaded and used AlphaWorks applications in 2005.

25,000—Number of total companies that downloaded software from AlphaWorks in 2005.

700—Number of total technologies delivered in alpha form to the marketplace.

129—Number of technologies incorporated into IBM products.

47—Number of stand-alone products that have originated from AlphaWorks.

30—Number of technologies donated by AlphaWorks to open-source community.

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Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...