IBM launches new cloud service to speed app development

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Like every other part of a software project, the various tools that companies use to build and maintain their applications can often take a lot of effort to manage. IBM Corp. hopes to ease the task with a new cloud service called Bluemix Continuous Delivery.

The service provides a hosted environment for running development workflows. According to the company, the offering enables software teams to quickly assemble a custom toolkit using built-in connectors for services such as GitHub, application automation platform Puppet and Slack. The latter integration expands upon an artificial intelligence partnership that Big Blue struck with the collaboration provider last month.

A team looking to streamline troubleshooting operations, for example, could harness Bluemix Continuous Delivery to display alerts from its monitoring tools in Slack. And the service also makes it possible to automate software production through integration with Bluemix Delivery Pipeline, which launched earlier this year. The latter offering enables developers to create reusable workflows for building, testing and deploying their code while doubling as a bug-hunting tool.

Although Delivery Pipeline and the other technologies the service supports may help engineers squash most architectural issues, problems are still bound to emerge once the software is in production. That’s why IBM is launching a second new service called Availability Monitoring today that aims to improve application uptime.

The tool lets companies simulate user visits from servers in different parts of the world to pinpoint localized access problems. This includes Domain Name Service failures like the one that knocked Twitter, Netflix and a number of other top sites offline in October. After identifying an issue using the service, development teams can come up with a workaround to restore availability while the bottleneck is being resolved.

IBM hopes that its new services will up the ante against better-established providers such as Amazon.com Inc. and Microsoft Corp. that don’t yet provide comparable DevOps automation features. But the competition is quickly closing the gap. Last week at its annual user conference, Amazon Web Services unveiled a tool called X-Ray that promises to ease the task of identifying and troubleshooting performance issues in cloud applications.

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