IBM upgrades BlueMix cloud to attract more startups

LAS VEGASIBM Corp., known for catering to the enterprise crowd,  is in a race against other vendors to appeal to startups.

At the IBM Impact conference in Las Vegas, the company unveiled updates  to BlueMix, a cloud platform allowing developers to code apps, QA test them, get feedback on their performance, and tweak them accordingly, that were clearly aimed at bringing startup developers onboard.

First announced at IBM Pulse in February, the enhancements to BlueMix should help developers dramatically speed up their programming time, said Robert LeBlanc, senior vice-president of IBM’s software and cloud solutions group.

“When you go into some of the other cloud providers, you’re having to stitch all of that together,” he said. “And what we’ve been focusing on is doing that stitching for the developer … if the developer spends time just configuring, that’s not time they’re spending innovating.”

To kick off the updates to its platform, IBM will also launch a series of BlueMix garages to train developers on using the platform to build their businesses, with the first one based in San Francisco.

Along with BlueMix, IBM also updated its Worklight platform, integrating it with BlueMix to help developers scale up their solutions.

IBM recently helped a Chinese customer with selling millions of tickets online during a festival – a task that has traditionally put too much of a strain on event and ticketing startups used to dealing with a much smaller number of customers visiting their site at one time.

“This is a mobile-first world. Developers need the tools to write once and deploy on any device,” said Ray Wang, an analyst with Constellation Research Inc., in an email. “This means app (development), testing, device management, security, performance, and upgrades all need to be unified. From the demos we’ve seen, IBM’s made it a lot easier to do this in BlueMix.”

Besides BlueMix, IBM also announced the IBM Cloud Marketplace, which pulls information for software-as-a-service or infrastructure-as-a-service solutions into one set of pages. However, the information isn’t limited to IBM’s products. It also shows third-party solutions, giving buyers the information they need based on the area they work in – line of business, development, or IT administration.

However, IBM was careful to stress it’s not trying to silo its toolsets. Instead, it’s pushing BlueMix, IBM Cloud Marketplace, and its other products and services as leveraging mobile, big data, and the cloud all at the same time.

That being said, in its bid to attract startups to its platform, IBM is facing some stiff competition in the form of Amazon Web Services and other cloud providers. And while spokespeople said it doesn’t aim to compete based on pricing, it will be pushing its reputation for security and privacy – and time will tell if that gets startups interested.

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