IBM forges VMware pact, pushes more Swift developer tools

At a high-level, IBM is building out its ecosystem for its Bluemix platform-as-a-service as well as its Watson cloud offerings and targeting hybrid cloud deployments.

IBM forged a strategic partnership with VMware to better integrate its cloud offerings to hybrid data centers and outlined how it is linking Swift, a programming language open sourced by Apple, to back-end applications via the cloud.

Those two headliner announcements landed as IBM kicked off its Interconnect cloud conference in Las Vegas. At a high-level, IBM is building out its ecosystem for its Bluemix platform-as-a-service as well as its Watson cloud offerings. In addition, IBM is enabling more of its software--think Websphere--for cloud deployments and making it easier to connect hybrid infrastructure together.

Adam Gunther, director of cloud developer services, said the glue between IBM's move this week is that the company is offering a consistent experience between on-premises, cloud and mobile. "Everybody wants to innovate and it's about speed, but no one is handing out blank checks," said Gunther. "What we're doing allows people to build what works today, but adopt newer technology and migrate at their own pace."

Here's a look at what IBM's moving parts at Interconnect:

  • VMware and IBM launched a strategic partnership where virtual workloads can interoperate with IBM's cloud services. The two companies will co-develop and market hybrid cloud software and services. VMware's software defined data center wares already can connect to public cloud services, but Gunther said what'll make the IBM deal different is that the two companies will collaborate and use the same technologies.
  • IBM is launching a preview of a Swift runtime and Swift Package Catalog that will allow developers to create enterprise apps. Apple used Swift primary as a front-end programming language, but IBM is using it on the server side too. In theory, the server and front-end Swift connection will allow more apps to connect to critical data. You see where this is headed: More enterprise apps for the IBM and Apple partnership.
  • Big Blue said it is rolling out Websphere Cloud Connect, which links IBM's middleware, which is entrenched in the enterprise, to its cloud platform. The idea is that existing IBM customers will more easily offload transaction processing via Websphere to the cloud. By connecting back end applications with the cloud it's easier to create apps that can access corporate data via apps. The Expert Tech MobileFirst for iOS app built by IBM and Apple accesses 12 back-end systems. IBM is also connecting DB2, z/OS, MQ and various APIs to its cloud.
  • APIs for Watson are being expanded to better recognize text to speech and tone of speech. The two APIs rolling out for Watson are Emotion Analysis and Visual Recognition. The APIs are in beta, but are designed to allow Watson to better perceive and empathize with humans.
  • The launch of Bluemix OpenWhisk. For IBM, OpenWhisk is a new event-driven platform to allow developers to simplify app development. OpenWhisk will be open sourced as a technology for hybrid cloud deployments.
  • IBM announced Bitly will use its cloud as a preferred platform. Separately, IBM said it was partnering with Siemens to offer joint smart building technologies. The partnership will meld IBM's Watson Internet of things analytics with Siemens connected building technologies.

Of those announcements, the one that'll effect enterprises quickly will be the VMware partnership. If IBM and VMware can integrate well, Big Blue could capture more workloads in hybrid environments. Multiple clouds will still be used, but IBM with VMware's help could be the path of least resistance over time.

As for the details, VMware's software-defined data center architecture will be available on IBM's cloud. VMware will be integrated with IBM's 45 cloud centers around the world. For instance, VMware's vRealize Automation and vCenter management tools will treat IBM's cloud as if it's part of a local data center. The two parties will co-market to joint customers.

The VMware-IBM deal is notable given the Dell and EMC merger, which will create a bulked up company that looks more like IBM now.

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