IBM announces cloud software-development betas

Big Blue is prepping pay-as-you-go infrastructure as well as full-lifecycle services for private clouds

IBM on Thursday announced beta versions of new services aimed at developers who want to create and deploy applications on public and private clouds.

Like other vendors, such as Skytap, IBM is pushing cloud services as a way for programmers to get access to computing power quickly, something that can be difficult if many in-house projects are occurring and on-site computing resources are scarce. With the Smart Business Development and Test service, which runs on IBM's public cloud, developers can get a working environment in minutes, according to the vendor.

IBM also said it would begin deploying its Rational Software Delivery Services for Cloud Computing on private clouds. The offering, which was announced as a technology preview earlier this year, bundles best practices for agile development; services for test management and planning; and other tools, such as asset-tracking software that is supposed to help development teams run more efficiently.

Both services are set to be generally available in the first quarter of 2010, said Ashok Reddy, director of software delivery platform and security products.

Pricing hasn't been finalized, but the Smart Business Development and Test service will use the now-familiar pay-as-you-go model, according to Reddy. IBM also expects to use a token-based licensing option for Rational Software Delivery Services for Cloud Computing, he said.

Under such a system, companies buy a set number of "tokens" that can be moved from product to product as needs change. For example, early in a project, most tokens could be tied to developer tools, and as work concludes, the tokens would shift to testing software.

Although IBM is moving ahead aggressively with its cloud-development strategy, it's not clear when the market will be ready to fully embrace such services, according to one observer.

"I'm not seeing a significant demand for cloud-based dev at this point," Forrester Research analyst Jeffrey Hammond said via e-mail. "Around 1 in 10 developers have indicated to Forrester they've even deployed a software project to the cloud at this point, and of those most are using the IAAS providers like Amazon EC2 to deploy complete apps that they've developed and tested in house. I think the concept of hosted development is intriguing, but it's going to take time for organizations to get comfortable shipping their software IP off site into the cloud."

"As an aside -- it's another matter for open source projects, which have been very successful using this type of model," he added.

Other data shows greater interest among developers in cloud computing, but again, more in regard to deployment than soup-to-nuts application development.

An Evans Data survey released in August found nearly 50 percent of respondents planned to deploy applications to a private cloud.

But half also said they are using public cloud services like EC2 for experimentation or prototypes, versus "business-critical" applications. And a full three-quarters believe in backing up applications running on public clouds, whether in storage or a private cloud.

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