Thursday, March 18, 2010

IBM offers cloud for developers, not yet for mainframe developers, PayPal using it

Tuesday, IBM announced the availability of Smart Business Development and Test Cloud on the IBM Cloud, the commercial version of cloud services for software development and testing. These new services allow clients to do test and development on the shared IBM Cloud. Beta clients of these services include the Computer Software Initiative and PayPal.

At first, I found this announcement confusing. The reason for my befuddlement was that IBM previously delivered the similarly named Smart Business Development and Test Cloud, a private cloud. In this previous version, the cloud is built and managed by IBM, but located on the client premises and behind the client’s firewall.

Jennifer Knecht from IBM was nice enough to help me with a few questions.

Q. Are these cloud services available to entrepreneurs and new companies?

A. IBM is focused on delivering enterprise-class cloud services that are highly secure, flexible and reliable, and built for use with development teams. Small companies can certainly take advantage of these new services, and you'll see that we've announced partnerships with a number of small organizations and venture-backed companies today. Since the IBM cloud services are delivered in a flexible, consumption-based model, it gives smaller organizations a more predictable view into the costs they incur.

Q. Can these services be used for mainframe development?

A. George -- the initial version of Smart Business Development and Test Cloud on the IBM Cloud doesn't yet include support for mainframe development, but we're still in early stages. We'll share details about additional partners and technology support in the coming weeks and months. Let me know if you have any questions in the mean time.

From what I know today, the IBM Cloud with all of the Rational development tools available sounds like an excellent product. To me, the mainframe issue remains relevant. On the LinkedIn Mainframe Experts discussion group, this topic is arises repeatedly.

For example, just a month ago I read this post which generated 32 replies: “Being out of the work force for two and half years, is there a site where I can practice COBOL, DB2, CICS, JCL ?”

One suggestion was to download a copy of Hercules, an open source implementation of System/370, ESA/390 architectures that runs on Windows, Linux, and even Mac OS X platforms. A better solution would be to buy time in the cloud. As far as I know, no cloud available today supports mainframe development, still a superior technology for transaction processing and for massive data operations. For IBM, the opportunity should be obvious.

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