IBM just gave Apple even more enterprise credibility

IBM just made Swift available as a server side language, and that's a big deal for enterprise developers.

Apple, IBM, iOS, Swift, digital transformation

Apple and IBM have just made it possible for enterprise developers to create rock-solid apps for iOS using Swift.

Swift happenings

Reaction to the news seems to have been fairly muted, but the news will have a big impact on enterprise users engaged in digital transformation projects. There is a growing tend in which enterprises will coalesce their efforts around iOS within heterogeneous platform strategies that extend to OS X.

Apple’s recently introduced Swft development language is already winning hearts and minds beyond the company’s traditional heartlands, and the decision to make the language open source seems set to pay bigger dividends. IBM’s move to make Swift available as a server-side language on IBM Cloud is one of the bigger dividends.

IBM calls the move a “key next step in IBM and Apple’s shared journey to help enterprises advance their mobile strategy with innovative app design, analytics, process transformation and integration required for a mobile first experience.”

Developers, developers, developers

Apple only open sourced Swift two months ago, when IBM introduced Swift Sandbox for “early exploration of server-side programming in Swift”. Hundreds of thousands of developers have already made swift use of IBM’s Swift Sandbox and Swift was the most-loved programming language of 2015, said StackOverflow.

  • “Developers can start exploring the benefits of Swift on the IBM Cloud in three ways:
  • - Experiment in the Swift Sandbox: Quickly experiment with open sourced Swift, ramp up your skill set and learn what Swift can do for your enterprise by checking out new enhancements to the Swift Sandbox.
  • - Develop and Deploy: Start building end-to-end applications on Bluemix and quickly deploy them with Kitura, a new open source web server released by IBM, on both OSX and Linux.
  • - Share Swift Resources: Leverage code across projects by creating packages and submitting them to the Swift Package Catalog on Bluemix to encourage sharing of new Swift resources with the global developer community.”

Fast deployments, better design

It’s a big deal because it means developers can create server side apps using the same tools they use to build front-end experiences. Not only does this unify development resources, but it should also enable improvements in the speed of development and deployment of new solutions, boosting enterprise agility.

It should also open the doors to better software designs – gone are the limitations you get when server engineers build front ends for enterprise software. Swift provides the tools to build modern apps fast, exploiting server-based resources (such as and including IBM’s Watson AI) within apps offering the sparkle and usability digital natives expect from software in the new Millennium. Enterprise software does not need to be clunky, limited, platform defined or hard to use – those are design decisions that reflect the limited imaginations running a company. There may also be implications for connected home and infrastructure IT.

"Modern digital apps require a modern programming language. Swift is easy to learn, reliable, fast and interactive, the key traits that CIOs look for when building the next generation of enterprise mobile apps," said Michael Gilfix, VP of IBM MobileFirst Offering Management.

IBM’s news should be considered in the light of a range of other cloud-focused announcements it made, including new partnerships with GitHub, Bitly and VMware.

Apple and IBM their enterprise partnership in July 2014. Since then IBM has become a key Apple solutions integrator for enterprise users and the partners have introduced an array of MobileFirst for iOS apps.

Big ambition

Apple Senior VP of Software Engineering Craig Federighi says his company intends building Swift to become: "The language, the major language for the next 20 years of programming in our industry."

IBM’s latest step means Apple has taken a giant leap toward carving such a future. Though the nature of the future will also be defined by data and privacy decisions currently being reached by security services without full understanding of what’s at stake.

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Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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