Cast Iron boosts IBM limited cloud experience

LAS VEGAS–IBM’s acqusition of cloud integration vendor Cast Iron Systems Inc. made waves at the company’s Impact conference on Monday. One analyst said the purchase supplements IBM’s “limited” cloud experience.

While IBM already offers a vast portfolio to build business processes on-premise within the organization, the addition of Cast Iron Systems’ technology will give customers capabilities to connect to external cloud-based applications as well, said said Craig Hayman, general manager WebSphere with the IBM’s software group, during a press conference at the event that focuses on services-oriented architecture and business process management technologies.

“Cast Iron was a dramatic acceleration for our efforts,” said Hayman.

Although it’s just code that essentially connects on-premise apps with cloud apps, customization is required to deal with issues like integration and security at the data layer, said Hayman.

Mountain View, Calif.-based Cast Iron Systems has developed templates for integration patterns that capture possible scenarios between various application service providers like NetSuite and Taleo, said Ken Comee, CEO with Cast Iron Systems. The idea is so that the wheel doesn’t have to be recreated every time, said Comee.Nine things seen and heard at IBM Impact 2010

The intermediary that Cast Iron Systems provides between on-premise and cloud applications “is a very nice fit” with IBM and the notion of service orientation and a hybrid application environment, said Steve Mills, senior vice-president and group executive with IBM’s software group.

Mills said IBM intends to continue to invest in Cast Iron Systems to grow both company’s revenues through this acquisition.

IBM will also continue to support Cast Iron Systems’ existing customer base and partner ecosystem. Hayman said the company intends to grow Cast Iron Systems’ very broad set of integrations with non-IBM vendors like Microsoft Corp., Oracle Corp. and “We aren’t thinking about reducing that ecosystem. We are thinking about accelerating that ecosystem,” said Hayman.

In an interview with ComputerWorld Canada, independent analyst Amy Wohl said that while IBM did have the capability to connect external applications with on-premise ones, its cloud experience was limited.

Wohl said IBM’s experience with connecting on-premise to on-premise applications happened primarily through its consulting arm where a lot of custom code was required.

But Cast Iron Systems, on the other hand, said Wohl, created the “intellectual assets” in the form of reusable templates. “Interestingly, perhaps not at all coincidentally, the companies that they’ve done this for – those on the cloud side and on the enterprise software side – are exactly the same connections that IBM is routinely being asked to make all the time,” said Wohl.

Other announcements at the conference included IBM WebSphere Lombardi Edition, the first integrated offering since IBM announced it had bought Austin, Tx.-based business process vendor Lombardi Software Inc.  last December. Also new in the area of dynamic application infrastructure is WebSphere DataPower XC10 Appliance and WebSphere Application Server Feature Pack for OSGi Application and JPA V2.

Earlier at the opening keynote, Mills told the audience that building out a services-oriented architecture and building business processes ties into the company’s smarter planet vision.

“You can put instrumentation into everyday things … to optimize and make a physical world system act more productively,” said Mills.

He went a step further to predict that this coming decade would be driven by “this total end-to-end approach to optimization in everything we do,” said Mills.

IBM Impact continues through Friday of this week.

Follow Kathleen Lau on Twitter: @KathleenLau

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