Big Blue Makes Key Cloud Announcements at IBM Innovate

At its IBM Innovate conference in Orlando, FL, IBM announced that the company is expanding its partnership with SAP to deliver the SAP HANA platform, the SAP HANA ONE service, and other SAP solutions on its SoftLayer cloud platform. The partnership will allow customers of both companies to take full advantage of IBM's global reach by growing their business across any of IBM's 40 data centers worldwide.

For both companies, the move signals a growing customer demand for cloud-based services. "IBM and SAP are longtime partners and dominant players in the on-premises world," Laurie McCabe, IT analyst and cofounder of the SMB Group, says. "As more companies opt for cloud deployments over on-premises, both vendors are looking to become leaders in the cloud. They are hoping the combination of their strong existing relationship and the newer capabilities each can bring to the table—SoftLayer cloud infrastructure from IBM and HANA from SAP—[will] accelerate this," she adds.

To extend its already vast global network, IBM has also unveiled the opening of a new SoftLayer data center in Hong Kong—the first of 15 new data centers that the company will open as part of a $1.2-billion dollar investment to strengthen and extend IBM cloud services in Asia and around the world.

Rounding out a series of major announcements, IBM also touted updates to Bluemix, its open cloud platform, which gives developers access to IBM's software for integration, security, and transactions, as well as enables developers to connect systems of record with systems of engagement. Still in beta, Bluemix's new DevOps services will allow developers to build and launch projects faster, and better communicate with their customers throughout the process.

"We're allowing the programmer to have no boundary between them and their customer," Steve Robinson, general manager of IBM Cloud Platform Services, said during his presentation at Innovate, which was live-streamed. "We see the power of open standards for cloud and developers," he added, explaining that "you can only compose if you have great parts."

The new Bluemix DevOps services include Appscan for Web and mobile, which builds security into applications by design; Continuous Delivery Pipeline, a tool that automates testing and deployment support; Workflow, designed to orchestrate cloud services; and Embeddable Reporting, which will embed business intelligence into applications. Together, the new capabilities promise to give developers a more streamlined way to build products.

"One of the great things about Bluemix is that developers can learn by experimenting," Serge Lucio, director of products and strategy of Rational Software at IBM, said as he demonstrated the new capabilities, including the speed that it takes to deploy updates.

Taking BlueMix DevOps services for a test ride, the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), San Francisco's public transit system, has been using the tools to develop a mobile app that will collect data from BART's stations, tracks, sensors, and maintenance systems to help supervisors track trains in real time. Using BlueMix, BART reduced its app development time from six months to 15 days, according to Robinson, who participated in BART's app demo.

BlueMix DevOps will be widely available at the end of June, Robinson said, emphasizing IBM's commitment to the developer community. "Developers are going to be the new kingmakers, and this new technology will flow through them," he added.

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