IBM is making a slew of moves to attract developers to its Bluemix platform-as-a-service, wrapping the commercial service in the language and principles of open source in an appeal to the line-of-business developers they see as increasingly crucial customers.
Last week, the company launched developerWorks Open, where it is open sourcing a range of cloud plumbing tools for community use — many of which tie directly into Bluemix. Then on Wednesday, IBM unveiled a forum for developers to contribute and exchange code snippets that connect Internet of Things (IoT) devices to cloud applications. Called IBM developerWorks Recipes, the service is open and free to use — as long as you’re running Bluemix, which is the necessary back-end.
The strategy is sound, as marketing goes. Developers love open source, and tools like IBM’s new IoT “recipes” are potentially quite useful. “Developers just can’t be experts on each new ‘thing’ that gets added to the IoT,” Jone Rasmussen of IoT developer tool startup Bitreactive said in a statement. “Developers need easy, repeatable ways to quickly extract data from devices.”
IBM wants to give those developers exactly what they need, through its Bluemix service of course.
“Line-of-business developers are driving more business now,” says Neil Postlethwaite, IBM’s director for IoT community and ecosystem. “Rather than the business team tasking things to IT, they’ve had their developers go off on their own and build things.” IT teams, he adds, often just “hold on to and manage” completed projects.
IBM contributes heavily to a range of open source foundations, including OpenStack, Cloud Foundry, and jQuery. But like many other companies, IBM has begun stretching the meaning of “open” in its quest to woo developers. In October, it launched the Internet of Things Foundation, a commercial service with pricing levels in Silver, Gold, and Bronze, seeming to mimic the membership levels of nonprofit foundations.
The SaaS service, which delivers IoT data to the cloud, uses “foundation” in the sense of “being that first step in getting value out of IoT,” says Postlethwaite.
“That’s good feedback,” he said when asked about the potential for confusion over the initiative. “A couple people did ask, ‘Is this some kind of non-profit?'”