Innovate at speed at Developer Connect 2014

David Norfolk

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Published: 7th January, 2015
Content Copyright © 2015 Bloor. All Rights Reserved.

Unfortunately, this report fell foul of Xmas and other deadlines, but I still think that some general impressions from Developer Connect 2014 in London will be worthwhile. I'll start with the idea that growth seems to be becoming seen as important a goal as profitability within parts of IBM. Well, Bluemix, IBM's development PaaS, needs all the hearts and minds it can get, if it is to be seen as the obvious place for new development talent to go, so growth is good and profitability can follow.

This attitude—that growth is all that matters—worries me a bit, even so; I like profitability. Nevertheless, in a world where making less profit than expected is written about as though it is a disaster for IBM (with some pretty harsh consequences), whereas other companies are seen as very successful without making a profit at all, perhaps I'd be pushing for growth too. Well, instead of a Faustian pact with Wall Street, anyway.

Leaving aside games with IBM's share price, I rather like IBM's technology vision these days. A very good sign is that I'm told that Ginni Rometty, its CEO, is well aware of DevOps and even talks about it to potential investors. It seems to me that it is bringing more Freedom to developers, to develop what the business wants; and it has the capability of adding Actionable Insights, built into the systems, to facilitate Trust between employer, employee and customer

The Bluemix story around IBM's development PaaS seems to be increasingly popular—congratulations to Gina Poole (VP Rational Marketing) for choosing a reasonably sexy name for once, and resisting the urge to put 'Rational' in front of it. Rational is a very strong brand, with enterprise developers—but Bluemix needs to attract individual new developers from startups and the like and it seems that the Bluemix brand is actually attracting new talent these days. I remember suggesting something like a new developer brand a while ago, here, and IBM wasn't too keen then—but things seem to have moved on now (and some other analysts are talking about the idea too).

What is needed to cement Bluemix in the next generation developer imagination, then? Well, more of what IBM seems to be doing already with Bluemix and IOT will help. ARM is partnering with IBM on Bluemix IoT services—not only can IoT developers learn a lot from embedded developers, embedded developers can also learn a lot about about making IoT into good business applications from the IT guys. However, perhaps more services to help developers marketise, certificate and make money from their apps would be a real killer.

There was some discussion about the Internet of Things vs Intranet of Things—where some applications are more suited to deployment only on an on-premise Intranet of Things cloud, for security reasons. However, I have a problem with this sort of silo'd approach to security. Better, I think to have a security continuum (across hybrid cloud), with appropriate security enforced by explicit policy (backed up with big data analytics against usage and behaviour); instead of relying on people remembering whether or not they are developing in a safe place for the data they're using.

Finally, for now, Ashok Reddy (VP Product Management & Design and Business Development IBM Software Group, Rational Software, IBM) made a good point, around DevOps being a transformation process, not just a bit of new technology. DevOps is capable of transforming the business, partly because it supports more agile business operations and partly because it involves more stakeholders in the delivery of software innovation. The implication of this is that your problems implementing DevOps may well come from politics and changing culture, rather than the technology, so your DevOps team needs people skills.

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