IBM appears to be closing ranks on a new iteration (the company is fond of that word after all) of its DevOps technology proposition.

As we know, the structure of modern DevOps stems from Agile software application delivery principles and is it now evolving into a more refined, more elite and more capable function focused on improving collaboration between the application development and operations teams.

IBM Agile: not always as simple as you'd think

IBM Agile: not always as simple as you’d think

The ultimate goal here is to focus on speeding software delivery and improving quality. But now we see the prevalence and presence of DevOps evidenced perhaps closer than ever to the IBM developer backbone i.e. for IBM, DevOps is now aligned as close bedfellows among the IBM developerWorks wider development programme.

IBM has been expanding internally, augmenting product sets and also spending its hard-earned acquisition dollars to make its DevOps software stack a thing (it hopes) of unsurpassed breadth and excellence. With a conscientious eye on the need to bring about continuous integration and application integration, the firm has most recently acquired:

  • Worklight for its mobile development expertise
  • Greenhat for development and testing technology
  • Urbancode for release and deployment know-how
  • Coremetrics for monitoring
  • Tealeaf for application optimisation technology

So currently evolving products to note in this arena include: IBM Rational Test Workbench, IBM Worklight & IBM SmartCloud Application Services Trial — also IBM SmartCloud Analytics: Log Analysis, plus also IBM SmartCloud for Application Insight and IBM SmartCloud Application Services.

A cluttered bag of disparate resources?

So we are under no misapprehension about what has been happening here i.e. IBM has been on a spending spree to try and produce a real end-to-end DevOps tooling range. But does this position the company as ready and capable of handling real world DevOps challenges or does it leave IBM as a company left with a cluttered bag on yet-to-be fully integrated disparate resources?

IBM is no stranger to acquisition and integration, so this expanded tool bag is unlikely to have many frayed edges. The reality here is points to what is probably a very capable total DevOps offering, but it’s not going to be cheap if you want the five star wash, wax and polish with the interior valet service thrown in.

Has IBM built such a very attractive DevOps proposition that it is now capable of attracting customers who would not have previously considered the company as a suitable vendor in this field? The reason that these acquired companies have done well is that they did a specific function extremely well and potentially at a price point that was attractive to the market audience and client base they acquired.

Who is to say that IBM will be able achieve this once theses companies’ technologies get subsumed into the wider big blue portfolio?

It’s not as easy as DevOps 1-2-3

It’s not just about core function, it’s not just about integration of these new tools, it’s not just about winning round new customer streams, it’s not just about expanding IBM’s developer competency and scope, it’s not just about cross-selling new tools to its existing client base, it’s not just about convincing its partner network that its new DevOps offering cuts the mustard and it’s not just about making IBM look and feel dynamic and forward looking — no, it is all of these things and it is all of these things at once.

Press releases, corporate blogs and IBM evangelist prophesy statements are an afternoon’s work. Bringing this new DevOps sub-universe into a stable orbit around IBM’s own particular spiral arm of the galaxy is a harder trick to pull off.

Without pushing the naysaying harbinger of doom angle too far (and yes we do realise that IBM is generally extremely competent at 90 plus percent of the things it does), should we ask “socially sensitive” questions of the new DevOps contingent? If these new building blocks all align comfortably in their own corner of the IBM stack, will they also be able to extend a functional arm into IBM’s enterprise messaging and collaboration portfolio?

They will surely need to if they are to become true IBM citizens capable of matching the bloodline of their parents. At this stage, it is not a given, whatever the roadmap says.

Is IBM in danger of just throwing whatever hot topic trending word (DevOps in this case, social enterprise technologies just before) into a marketing slogan without fully appreciating what it actually means to deliver to the myriad organisations in the market?

It wasn’t that long ago when IBM was talking about Collaborative ALM and now we see the company talking Agile DevOps… just exactly what does the transition mean for those who started out on the former?

Once again to close, IBM doesn’t launch rockets off into new acquisition zones without knowing what it is doing, but fast moving rockets take some steering and navigation, let’s hope IBM is wearing thick leather gloves.