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IBM aiming to provide womb-to-tomb app development support

IBM is trying to replicate the success it's had with WebSphere in the mobile market.

With the acquisition of Green Hat this year, IBM says it can now deliver comprehensive mobile application testing for companies developing their own in-house mobile apps. The company views this as the final piece they need to apply their experience in application middleware to the mobile world, meaning it wants to help businesses manage their entire mobile app life cycle, from birth until death.

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"We're in a unique position, in that we look at the entire development project," says Leigh Williamson, a distinguished engineer at IBM Rational who also serves as a member of IBM's CTO Team for mobile software strategy. "Our competitors try to focus just on one area but we try to look at a development project holistically throughout the whole cycle."

Williamson says that IBM is advising its user base to utilize multiple testing options while creating mobile apps, including manual app testing, using test emulators and performing agent-based software testing that involves performing automated tests on a "device cloud" made up of a large number of mobile devices.

Taking a look at the broader picture, Williamson says that IBM's overarching goal is to help companies test out and develop their apps across multiple platforms by using widely used open-source standards for app development that will be compatible with different operating systems. In particular, IBM thinks that JavaScript and HTML5 will be two standards that companies can rely on to make sure their apps work across multiple different device types.

"Companies like Apple, Google and Microsoft have a vertical silo for mobile and they're focused just on that," Williamson says. "Our strategy is to help enterprise customers build a bridge across the silos."

Williamson also says that IBM's increased focus on mobility is simply a reflection of the strong move toward mobility in the tech marketplace as a whole, as demonstrated by the success of smartphones and tablets.

"The IT industry has come to the realization that everyone is going to be accessing data using a mobile device, whether it's a smartphone, a tablet or even a notebook," he says. "If a business doesn't have a mobile channel, they will lose business very quickly. But the question for them is, 'How do we add in new features that take advantage of features on phones, such as cameras and GPS, and how do we do that without spending an arm and a leg?'"

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