What took so long? It’s four days into the new year and IBM just made its first acquisition of 2012 — it is buying Green Hat, a company that simulates application testing in the cloud.
This acquisition, terms of which were not disclosed, is all about IBM building up its automated software-testing portfolio and is just the latest proof point that cloud-deployed applications need the same sort of pre-deployment QA testing that business users demand of in-house applications. Increasingly, developers of both on-premises and cloud applications want to use virtual servers in the cloud to test out their work before releasing it into the real world. IBM itself is no stranger to this scenario, having launched IBM’s Smart Business Develop and Test Cloud two years ago.
The difference between existing IBM testing tools and Green Hat is that the latter simulates the application running on the cloud backend. Other cloud test services have to, at some point, actually provision and run, for example, SAP ABAP, WebMethods or other code in the cloud, said Charles Chu, director of product strategy for IBM Software Group’s Rational unit.
The goal here is to facilitate agile software development, which remains hampered even now by the need to physically set up and break down test labs as the project progresses, Chu said.
Green Hat’s technology actually blends on-premises and cloud capabilities. Developers can use desktop-based configuration and admin consoles to set up the app to be tested against Green Hat’s cloud-based Virtual Integrated Environment (VIE.) Or they can use a browser and check off the back-end services to be simulated, Chu said.
GreenHat, with 45 employees is an existing IBM Rational partner and thus integrates already with some Rational tools. Green Hat’s technology will become part of the IBM Rational collaborative lifecycle management (CLM) portfolio.
The arena of cloud-based software testing is growing with competitors like CA, Hewlett-Packard and others offering their own takes. And then there are feisty smaller up-and-coming companies like Soasta, which offers cloud-based load testing and which got $12 million in funding a few weeks ago. Cloudbees, a platform as a service startup, offers an automated service for testing Jenkins software deployments. (Jenkins is a Java-based open-source continuous integration development tool.)
Over the past decade, IBM has made progress building up its software and services business. Toward that end, IBM Software has bought 70 companies since 2003 (along with Rational Software in 2002 for $2.1 billion.) Continuing that trend will be a big part of incoming CEO Virginia Rometty’s mission. Purchases like this one will fill in gaps in the IBM Software portfolio.