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IBM says its new software links all your IT to the cloud

The digital-transformation imperative looms large in the business world, but it's not always clear how on-premises software and data fit into the picture.

IBM says it can help. The company on Monday announced a new series of “connect” tools for IBM Cloud that are designed to make it easier for companies to extend existing IT investments to the cloud.

"There are billions of dollars of investment and install-days in IT that will not and should not disappear," said Jim Comfort, CTO and general manager for architecture with IBM Cloud. "But we must make it easier to make it more relevant in the cloud."

A key piece of the offering is WebSphere connect, which extends IBM's longstanding WebSphere middleware to the cloud. With more than 200 million global instances, WebSphere boasts the largest population of Java developers of any platform, IBM says. Now, those developers can connect their apps to the cloud more easily.

The tool also extends WebSphere access to a whole new community of Node.js and Swift developers. From now on, all WebSphere customers will access new feature updates via the cloud, IBM said.

Application programming interfaces (APIs) are a big part of IBM's integration effort, and that's the focus of API connect, another piece of its new suite.

API connect aims to let any client publish its IT as an API, making it easy to find, call and connect over the cloud. It also enables the automated creation of APIs and provides built-in security and governance, IBM said.

App connect is a new software-as-a-service offering that provides hundreds of pre-built connectors to cloud and on-premise applications, with a focus on making life easier for line-of-business professionals.

Targeting analysts, developers, data scientists and data engineers, meanwhile, DataWorks is a service based on Apache Spark that makes it possible to prepare and move data from on-premises or off-premises sources to an analytics cloud ecosystem for analysis and visualization.

Message connect is a new Bluemix service that links IBM's Message Hub portfolio to Bluemix for connectivity to open message formats like Apache Kafka, while z/OS connect creates APIs and RESTful interfaces for apps running on IBM z Systems. 

Finally, WebSphere Blockchain connect is a new service available to all WebSphere customers that provides a "safe and encrypted passage" from a blockchain in the cloud back to the enterprise, IBM said.

The new z/OS connect tool is available now. WebSphere connect will be delivered in the first quarter of this year, followed by the remaining connect offerings in the second quarter.

Overall, the goal is to enable companies to connect to any data, application or transaction system, "unlocking billions in investments and allowing you to move with speed to assemble the parts you need," Comfort said.

With similar goals in mind, IBM on Monday also announced a partnership with VMware that will help VMware users extend their existing workloads from on-premises software-defined data centers to the cloud. The two companies will jointly market and sell new offerings for hybrid cloud deployments.

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