IBM's UrbanCode Buy Gives Boost To ISVs, Cloud Service Providers

IBM's acquisition of UrbanCode, a provider of software deployment automation technology, should provide a boost to IBM ISV partners and solution providers involved in so-called DevOps and software life-cycle management.

IBM partners working with the vendor's cloud computing, business analytics, social collaboration and mobile products also will benefit, given that frequent software updates have become a market necessity in those areas.

"It's really all about being able to deliver software faster and more cheaply," said Randy Newell, director of capabilities marketing for the IBM Software Group, in an interview with CRN. "Faster, more predictable, and on a higher-quality basis is crucial."

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"This looks like a very insightful acquisition by IBM. The ability of software vendors to deliver new technology quickly and efficiently has never been more important," said Allan Campbell, CEO of Maxava, an IBM partner that provides disaster recovery services. "I can also see a lot of parallels with IBM's Pure Systems 'patterns' that enable out-of-the-box preconfigured systems, and this looks to have the potential to take that to a new level."

DevOps is a methodology that emphasizes collaboration and communication among developers and IT production managers during the software development process. While Agile methodology specifically refers to the development phase of the software life-cycle process, DevOps refers to managing the stage of releasing new software and software updates for testing and deployment.

While Agile speeds up software development, "then you create a bottleneck in the next stage of the process," Newell said. That creates problems for businesses managing their internal software deployment efforts and for cloud software providers whose customers expect frequent application updates.

The UrbanCode technology will be integrated with a range of IBM products including Rational development tools, Tivoli management software and IBM SmartCloud technology. Newell said UrbanCode will be linked with Green Hat, the supplier of test automation and service virtualization tools IBM acquired last year. Another candidate for UrbanCode integration is the Worklight mobile application platform IBM also bought last year.

NEXT: UrbanCode Technology Benefits In-House Developers, ISVs

Maxava's Campbell sees benefits from the UrbanCode technology for customers, cloud service providers and ISVs.

"End customers are either trying to gain a competitive edge through technology or are simply trying to avoid being left behind in the functionality arms race," he said. "Cloud-based solutions that can be switched on almost overnight have seriously eroded the long-term strategic value of traditional application investments. For example, it used to take months or years to implement a major CRM application; these days you can have an effective comparable solution in a matter of weeks. If you are not upgrading or refreshing your in-house software almost continually, or utilizing the best available cloud-based solutions, you are going to be swamped -- either way, faster, more responsive, more consistent delivery by software vendors is being demanded.

"On top of ever faster enhancement of existing products, ISVs are also having to ensure that they have high-performance mobile interfaces, MSP-friendly monitoring and management capabilities and the ability to operate seamlessly in the cloud -- that is a lot of development shop demand. This looks like a great offering for both traditional ISVs trying to avoid becoming irrelevant and for cloud-focused ISVs trying to that ensure they do," Campbell said.

"Consumers are rapidly becoming a driving force in today's market. Couple that with the blitz of new technologies like mobile, social and cloud, and the game has changed drastically," said Vishal Rajpal, general manager of IBM BPMS at solution provider Perficient.

"The movement to mobile and digital channels has prompted leading organizations to make sense of the vast volumes of information generated through those channels, and has placed demands on them for effective usability, architecture and development approaches. There's a struggle to keep pace - internal infrastructures need to support these various technology advancements, and need to do so in real-time. With the acquisition of UrbanCode, IBM continues to piece together the mobile puzzle and closes the next logical step in broadening their DevOps strategy," Rajpal said.

"We can leverage UrbanCode’s software delivery to create and distribute applications for a range of mobile devices in a matter of hours," he added.

IBM channel partners that use IBM software to build their products will benefit from the addition of the UrbanCode technology, Newell said, as will partners that sell DevOps and software life-cycle management solutions based on IBM products. "This augments that portfolio," he said.

UrbanCode and its 50-plus employees will become part of IBM's Rational Software division, with CEO Maciej Zawadzki reporting to Kristof Kloeckner, Rational Software general manager. IBM did not disclose the amount it paid for privately held UrbanCode, which has 400 customers and is based in Cleveland.