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IBM Buys in to Node.js API Approach

The JavaScript juggernaut shows no signs of slowing down, as IBM yesterday announced it was acquiring enterprise Node.js specialist StrongLoop Inc. to further API-driven development on its Bluemix Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS).

Node.js is an open source, cross-platform runtime based on Chrome's V8 JavaScript engine, commonly used for developing server-side Web applications. "Node.js uses an event-driven, non-blocking I/O model that makes it lightweight and efficient," the Node.js.org site states.

The goal of acquiring Node.js expertise, IBM said, is "to help developers connect enterprise applications to mobile, Internet of Things (IoT) and Web applications in the cloud."

IBM noted that JavaScript is "ranked as the No. 1 language for discussion and usage" (in a recent report by Redmonk), followed by Java. Big Blue plans to help marry the two for more efficient enterprise development.

"Java remains the leading language for Web applications and transaction systems," IBM said in a statement. "Combining StrongLoop's tools and services with IBM's WebSphere and Java capabilities, IBM will help clients bridge Java and Node.js development platforms, which can enable clients to extract greater value from their application investments."

In the acquisition announcement, IBM emphasized its commitment to the API-driven approach to modern cloud development championed by StrongLoop, which states it provides "enterprise Node to power the API economy."

"As data becomes increasingly critical in cloud environments, developers are using APIs to create protocols and routines that specify how one application can interact with another application," IBM said, noting that "Node.js is one of the fastest-growing development frameworks for creating and delivering APIs."

IDC analyst Al Hilwa characterized the emphasis on API-based development as one of two industry trends reflected in IBM's move.

"This news is super interesting as it ties two important shifts in the industry," Hilwa said in an e-mail to ADTmag. "One is the shift to APIs as the key building blocks of the digital economy and the important role that new languages like Node.js are playing in it. The API economy is built on top of the Web ecosystem of skills, and Node.js is at the epicenter of the Web ecosystem today.

"The other," Hilwa continued, "is IBM's shift toward investment in such new languages to augment its expansive Bluemix offering. IBM is increasingly building on open source technologies and this [is] one piece that can enhance IBM's offering and ecosystem."

IBM, which noted it was a founding member of the Node.js Foundation formed to further Node.js and related technologies via an open governance model, said it will continue its support and investments in the community. The San Mateo, Calif.-based StrongLoop, founded in 2013, was described as a key contributor to that community, maintaining more than 160 modules available in the Node Package Manager.

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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