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IBM Brings Developers Into the Cloud

IBM Cloud computing
In the rush toward cloud computing, IBM wants to makes sure that enterprises don't forget about their software development teams.

The company today is introducing a series of developer-focused cloud computing initiatives to help provide process and application lifecycle management to cloud application development.

The new IBM (NYSE: IBM) services include Rational Software Delivery Services for Cloud Computing as well as its Smart Business Development and Test on the IBM Cloud.

IBM said the initiatives build on its experience with its own developers in leveraging the cloud for development, and that it's aimed at helping customers, in part, gain better utilization of their technology for developer efforts.

"What we are finding with IBM internally ... and our customers is that many enterprises devote 30 to 40 percent of their technology infrastructure for development and test efforts," Ashok Reddy, director of software delivery and security initiatives for IBM Rational, told InternetNews.com. "Because of that, the cloud provides an opportunity for companies to reduce that outlay, because most of the development and test servers run at less than 10 percent utilization, so lots of capacity is sitting idle."

The Rational Software Delivery Services for Cloud Computing are made up of a number of different services. Among them are best-practices services support for Agile development in the cloud, tools to help cloud-based development, and services for test management and planning.

The new effort is also part of IBM's overall cloud efforts and the continued expansion of its Rational portfolio. In June, IBM announced the Smart Business Test Cloud as a private cloud development environment.

Reddy noted that IBM itself has moved to a cloud development model and, as a result, has gained experience that it's now passing on to customers.

"We know quite a bit about development ourselves -- we have more than 100,000 developers and we used to have a decentralized way of doing development in our own infrastructure," Reddy said. "In the last year, we have moved to a centralized cloud based deployment for internal use and that has given us savings and experience to take to market with these offerings."

There are a number of differences between the cloud developer services and simply using existing on-site development tools, he pointed out.

"Developers today tend to have a more distribute-and-deploy model, where there are multiple instances of Rational products, and the governance can be a problem," Reddy said. "When it comes to cloud, the benefits come in terms of time to value with ready-to-use services."

"Without cloud, many of the developer tools need to be set up with knowledge of the infrastructure," he added. "The cloud improves the time to deployment, because it's preinstalled reducing deployment time from weeks to minutes."

While the cloud offers potential benefits to developers, Reddy warned there could be a negative side as well. For instance, without proper controls in place, the cloud could potentially exacerbate problems within development organizations.

According to Reddy, the cloud doesn't solve process issues if people don't follow best practices on how to develop and govern. That's why best practices still need to be in place -- whether you're developing in the cloud, or elsewhere, he said.

"Just because it's easier and cheaper to test doesn't mean you want everyone to do more tests," Reddy said. "That means the development process itself is producing a lot of defects."