Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference: IBM Exec Shares Insights into the Future of Swift

C. Dunlap
C. Dunlap

Summary Bullets:

  • IBM furthers its end-to-end Swift development efforts through new cloud tools that simplify server-side development, building an IBM Swift Sandbox website for code experimentation.
  • IBM will continue to encourage enterprises to move workloads to the cloud by easing end-to-end app development through buildpacks customized for Xcode developers and advanced connectivity in API services.

During this week’s Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, IBM’s announcement of updates to Swift 3 illustrate its investment in technology that eases end-to-end development in the Apple ecosystem (please see Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference: IBM Addresses Cloud-based and Server-side Development with Swift Tools, June 15, 2016).

Sure, the new server-side app development tools supporting the Apple programming language are self-serving. They guide mobile app developers towards IBM’s Bluemix platform services, which aim to ease deployment and scalability, while also providing a Linux-based version of Swift, supporting IBM mainframe servers.

But, IBM’s latest mobile innovation serves as Apple’s strongest enterprise play to date because it addresses customers’ need for innovative tools, implementations, and services such as analytics, microservices, and database services as part of the advanced application development process. By supporting Swift runtime in the cloud, developers have access to Cloud Foundry buildpacks (via Bluemix) customized to access the latest Swift capabilities to help Xcode developers link their client-side projects with server-side code, leveraging the cloud.

The value proposition of the Swift language has been expanded to the server, so those developers with core experience in Swift are better able to tackle development at the backend, with the ability to pull in rich sets of data capabilities – e.g., Watson and Cloudant.

Speaking this week with IBM’s mobile CTO, John Ponzo, I gained further insight to IBM’s plans for Swift. IBM highlighted its backend services for mobile and web applications, but Swift is also considered an ideal language for leveraging microservices in the cloud, easing development and ongoing maintenance of applications. IBM will continue to enable the language across all its backends, including z/OS and z/Linux systems.

Finally, key to IBM’s backend integration efforts among its three strategic languages – Swift, Java, and JavaScript – is its ability to leverage the API services from newly acquired StrongLoop, technology that lets developers create and manage APIs. This technology is a key component of the IBM Swift Package Catalog tool it also announced this week, aimed at addressing a major integration pain point among developers and lowering the barrier of adoption.

While this week’s IBM news is aimed largely at developers, it will continue broadening its messaging to IT operations teams, which are looking for ways to move parts of the workload to the cloud, often through hybrid integration in which API services play a large part. Among those discussions, IBM will reiterate its commitment to moving data center technologies to the cloud, including its commitment to emerging OSS technologies such as Apache Mesos. But, we’ll save that topic for another blog.

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