Inside Advanced Scale Challenges|Friday, September 22, 2017
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IBM Expands Partnership With App Developer 

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IBM has been working with an application developer startup called Lightbend Inc. on artificial intelligence, cognitive and other distributed applications, most destined to run in the cloud. The startup announced this week that IBM has extended their collaboration by leading a $15 million funding round that also includes Intel Capital and a group of venture capital backers.

Launched in 2011 under the name Typesafe, Lightbend was founded by Martin Odersky, creator of the Scala programming language. Joining IBM (NYSE: IBM) and Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) in the early funding round were Bain Capital Ventures, Blue Cloud Ventures, Juniper Networks and Shasta Ventures.

Along with Scala, Lightbend's claim to fame is a "reactive" application development platform for building distributed applications. The platform leverages micro-services along with "fast data" on a message-driven run time. The approach is designed to help scale enterprise applications on cloud infrastructure.

The partners said IBM would extend its collaboration with San Francisco-based Lightbend by integrating its hybrid cloud offerings with the Scala development platform. Those offerings include WebSphere and Analytics, IBM Cloud and the Watson Data Platform. The combination is intended to support developers using the Java Virtual Machine and related languages such as Java and Scala.

Among the goals of the collaboration is extending AI and cognitive technologies to application developers, the partners said Monday (July 10).

The investment in Lightbend's application development platform is designed primarily to advance IBM's cognitive computing strategy as it fleshes out it Watson ecosystem. "Java and Scala are the languages of cognitive and AI development, and cognitive development is the future,” Bob Lord, IBM's chief digital officer, asserted in a statement announcing the investment.

The expanded collaboration also calls for IBM and Lightbend to develop new code and tools for developing Java- and Scala-based cognitive applications on the Lightbend platform. IBM also promotes the partnership as a way for users of its Java-based Websphere application and integration middleware to leverage their investment.

The partners previously announced plans to bring micro-services to the Websphere platform. The collaborations means Websphere users would get support for running micro-services, Lightbend said.

Since big data frameworks such as the Akka toolkit and runtime along with Kafka and Apache Spark are based on Scala, the partnership would also support streaming data and other big data applications.

"This investment from IBM and the development work we’re embarking upon is a natural progression of our work to support advanced cognitive application development," noted Mark Brewer, Lightbend's president and CEO. "IBM brings important code and tools to our customers and the Java and Scala communities. IBM’s support of Lightbend and the Reactive Platform is a validation of our shared vision for helping developers build distributed applications for the new world of cloud computing architectures."

 

About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 25 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as Executive Editor for Electronic Engineering Times.

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