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Cloud Expo: Article

IBM Makes It Easier for Clients to Develop Software in the Cloud

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IBM on Monday announced that businesses of all sizes - from start-ups to large enterprises - are rapidly adopting IBM Bluemix to develop software in the cloud with greater speed, security and quality.

IBM also announced additional services on Bluemix, which will move from beta testing and into production later this month. Bluemix, IBM's open cloud platform, is based on an open standards foundation, Cloud Foundry, and provides developers access to IBM's software for integration, security, transactions and other key functions, as well as software from business partners. As a result, it can help developers connect two broad categories of systems in a cloud environment: systems of record, such as core banking and accounting systems, and systems of engagement, such as mobile, situational and social apps.

Bluemix, IBM's Platform-as-a-Service, offers cloud-based "DevOps" services which enable developers to rapidly develop and deliver projects faster and more efficiently. Using Bluemix services:

  • Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) dramatically reduced the expected delivery time of its pilot mobile app from months to weeks.
  • Financial Insurance Management Corp. (FIMC) rapidly created a mobile app to increase renewal rates by 30 percent;
  • Start-ups MyMenu and aPersona are scaling core business apps with improved speed and innovation.

Additionally, DevOps services allow organizations such as GE Capital to build an award-winning banking website and other apps with commercial intensity and market speed.

"Since Bluemix was launched just three months ago, we've seen a rapid ramp-up of third-party and IBM services available to developers who want to use DevOps in the cloud to create composable, enterprise-class apps," said Steve Robinson, General Manager of IBM's Cloud Platform Services. "Much of this evolution stems from work we've done with clients and our collaboration with our growing, open standards-based ecosystem. We can expect this momentum to continue as a bigger share of nearly 18 million developers globally move the bulk of their app development to the cloud."

New Bluemix and IBM DevOps Services Clients

BART Pilots Cloud and DevOps to Bring Critical Data to Mobile Workforce
Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) is a public, rapid transit system serving the San Francisco Bay Area. Working with IBM Business Partner Synchrony Systems, BART will pilot Bluemix DevOps to reach into the troves of data in its expansive physical infrastructure of 44 stations,104 miles of track, sensors, maintenance systems, trains and more, and plans to use this intelligence to build and deploy a mobile app allowing BART supervisors to track real-time train data via mobile updates. By combining DevOps capabilities with Bluemix's secure connection to back-end data, BART's previous estimates as to the time it will take to complete its first mobile app have drastically changed.

"BART has a huge volume of incredibly valuable information living in its infrastructure: from trains to tracks to maintenance reports," said Slavik Zorin, CEO of Synchrony Systems. "We are looking to the Bluemix DevOps model to give us the tools we need to rapidly tap all of this important data into a new, interactive mobile platform for BART to roll out to its mobile workforce - improving maintenance response and providing better service."

GE Capital Accelerates Software Delivery with Cloud-Based DevOps
GE Capital, the financial services unit of General Electric, recently aimed to accelerate software delivery and optimize the resources of top IT talent, allowing them to create innovations such as the company's Fleet Optimizer, an analytics app which allows vehicle fleet managers to optimize performance. The company built a DevOps platform, deploying build, test and production cloud environments accessible to global teams - drastically increasing visibility through real-time dashboards and continuous feedback, and speeding deployment of predictive analytics apps, websites and other software.

"We built software and apps, such as our award-winning bank - GECapitalBank.com - from scratch in weeks to months - instead of months to years," said Snehal Antani, CIO of Enterprise Architecture at GE Capital Americas. "By bringing together a strong IT foundation based on DevOps, we can execute and deliver requirements faster - giving us the agility of a startup with the resources of a large enterprise."

FIMC Taps DevOps to Create Customer Mobile Experiences
Financial Insurance Management Corp. (FIMC), an insurance provider offering customized membership programs and services, recognized a need for a high-quality mobile experience to enhance client engagement and improve customer service. Using Bluemix DevOps, IBM business partner PointSource worked with FIMC to build a mobile interface which connects clients to on-premise business applications, giving them access to one-touch roadside assistance, targeted promotions, claim submissions and deductible management, as well as a channel to interact with FIMC via social media for faster and more direct communication.

"Before implementing our mobile platform, our members sometimes did not realize some of their most valued services - such as roadside assistance or discounts - had expired, and we wanted to streamline the renewal process to ensure more continuous service," said Scott Liberatore, CEO of FIMC. "Now we have an engagement model that reaches members directly, and we've increased our customer renewal rate by 30 percent."

Born-on-the-Web MyMenu Uses Cloud, Mobile DevOps and Analytics to Bring Customer Feedback to Restaurants
Headquartered in Austin, Texas, MyMenu is a mobile food ordering company whose mobile app allows customers to search for restaurants, menu items and/or ingredients, order food and give feedback. As a Bluemix beta tester, the company accelerated the launch of its app by allowing developers to quickly iterate in a cloud-based environment, as well as create and manage new restaurant-specific data reporting tools with mobile testing, Big Data and analytics services.

"The users of our app span a large range of ages, job functions and more - yet each of their feedback is incredibly important to improving our app," said Mike Little, CEO of MyMenu. "Using Bluemix mobile and analytics tools, our users simply shake their phones when an issue is detected, and this info is automatically sent to the Bluemix cloud - making it easier for us to get to upgrades to the market quickly."

aPersona Moves Security App to Bluemix to Scale from Small Start-Ups to Enterprises
As web and mobile apps become more advanced, consequently so does the level of security needed to be built into them: today's apps require more than static IDs and passwords. aPersona is an app security start-up providing multi-factor authentication to websites, e-commerce, cloud portals, utility networks and more. Deploying their products onto Bluemix in just two days, aPersona's developers were able to quickly create multiple development and test environments, and built a tokenless, invisible authentication solution which scales and supports apps of all sizes.

"Hackers thrive in the gaps that can exist between convenience and commerce," said Kelly Sparks, CEO of Apersona. "By combining our adaptive multi-factor solution with Bluemix's open development environment and security services, and offering it via the platform, we're now able to offer an incredibly secure authentication solution available to anyone from a one-person startup building on Bluemix to the largest enterprise."

DevOps Solutions for Enterprise Environments
IBM is also announcing new DevOps solutions typically used behind organizations' firewalls, which will cater to various cloud models. By connecting data from systems of record to new applications and agile processes, users can increase visibility across the delivery and feedback cycle, balancing cost, security and quality concerns with rapid deployment speed. These include:

  • Continuous Testing, Release and Deployment solutions, which include applying advanced analytics to gauge mobile app user sentiment and quality; capabilities to accelerate multi-platform application testing for IMS, CICS and SAP applications; as well as the ability to deploy apps on multiple platforms (i.e. native z/OS, iOS, Android) simultaneously.
  • Continuous Business Planning and Collaborative Development solutions for open communication and analytics between teams to manage change faster; Collaborative Lifecycle Management capabilities that offer out-of-the-box and self-service reporting.

"Organizations today are finding they need to quickly build and shift to mobile, social and cloud-based apps to differentiate customer experience. However, the best apps often need to reach into the volumes of data held behind the firewalls of organizations' infrastructures," said Kristof Kloeckner, General Manager of IBM Rational Software. "IBM's DevOps approach helps teams connect that information to build better systems of interaction with both speed and high quality."

New Bluemix Services
Built on IBM's deep strengths in Big Data, analytics and open standards, new Bluemix services include:

  • AppScan to build security by design via rapid testing in multiple environments and shared results;
  • Embeddable Reporting services to build advanced analytics within an app from the moment it's provisioned - turning volumes of Big Data into actionable feedback;
  • Workflow services to orchestrate cloud services, evolving workflows based on their behavior;
  • Continuous Delivery Pipeline services to allow organizations to manage multiple application releases simultaneously, giving them the increasingly competitive advantage of rapid, accurate software delivery.

SoftLayer Helps Speed Scaling
Bluemix helps collapse the distance between idea and production through instant access to powerful SoftLayer cloud infrastructure, IBM software, runtimes and third party services. Combined with IBM DevOps services, developers and line-of-business operations are able to work together and develop faster than traditional methods via integrating all organizational systems, simplified testing and quality assurance, and faster access to feedback. This allows the continuous delivery of apps through more intelligent use of app analytics, better management of projects, increased ability for market tests, and a more rapid release schedule of new features.

IBM's advantage in Bluemix and DevOps services comes from its history of working across every global industry, building a portfolio reflecting a long tradition of responding to client needs and market shifts. This expertise culminates in Bluemix, with advanced services in security, Big Data, analytics, DevOps, mobile, IoT and more to create varying apps across a wide range of industries.

More Stories By Liz McMillan

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