Inside Advanced Scale Challenges|Saturday, July 21, 2018
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IBM Adds Node.js App Tools with StrongLoop Deal 

In a bid to bolster its toolbox for developing cloud-based applications, IBM said this week it would acquire StrongLoop Inc., an application development software startup.

Two-year-old StrongLoop, based in San Mateo, Calif., is a provider of application development software that emerged last year called Node.js. The development framework is widely used to create and deliver APIs. IBM said Thursday (Sept. 10) it would integrate Node.js with its existing mobile services and WebSphere Application Server.

IBM's goal is to combine the ability of Node.js to rapidly create APIs with Java and API management capabilities on its Bluemix application development platform. Incorporating Node.js on the IBM cloud is designed to help developers "bridge Java and Node.js development platforms," IBM said.

The "js" stands for JavaScript, the popular browser scripting language that glues much of the Web together. Node.js has caught on with companies seeking a faster way of moving and manipulating data than they have with Java, PHP, Ruby or Python. Since many programmers already are familiar with JavaScript, the transition to Node.js has proven relatively easy.

Node.js emerged last year when it was embraced by large enterprises like payroll and benefits processor ADP and Dow Jones. "With this acquisition, the industry benefits from Node.js’ formal entry into the mainstream enterprise," StongLoop CEO Juan Carlos Soto asserted in a statement.

The partners said they would leverage open-source development using Node.js as a way to advance the "API economy." IBM added that the integration of Java and Node.js communities with its Bluemix platform would provide access to IBM data analytics, Watson and it mobile services.

IBM was a founding member of the Node.js Foundation launched earlier this year to accelerate adoption of the API development tool and related modules. Formation of the group signaled that "the Node.js codebase has become essential to the developer ecosystem for scalable, distributed network applications," the founders noted.

Along with Bluemix, IBM also said it would incorporate StrongLoop's cloud capabilities into its IoT Foundation with the intention of providing access to insights from Internet of Things sensor data. It also expects to provide worldwide support for the StrongLoop platform by the second half of 2016, including translation support for Brazilian Portuguese, Mandarin and simplified Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese and Spanish.

IBM is forecasting that the market for API development and deployment will soar to $2.2 trillion by 2018. It estimates there are about 11 million JavaScript and Node developers building APIs with the frameworks. Meanwhile, Node.js is emerging as a standard for developing micro-services as well as APIs

IBM also views the StrongLoop acquisition as another way of connecting front-end applications with back-end systems via APIs running on a hybrid cloud.

In a blog post, Marie Wieck, general manager of IBM Middleware, said the acquisition adds the Node.js framework to its existing JavaScript and .Net capabilities. Wieck said IBM would immediately launch StrongLoop services on Bluemix.

About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 30 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as executive editor of Electronic Engineering Times. Leopold is the author of "Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom" (Purdue University Press, 2016).

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