IBM goes after NZ developers

IBM is claiming to have doubled to more than 7000, from January to July, the number of registered New Zealand users of its developerWorks website.

IBM is claiming to have doubled to more than 7000, from January to July, the number of registered New Zealand users of its developerWorks website.

According to David Reeve, the Australia and New Zealand head of IBM’s developer relations efforts, that’s from a total population of 26,000 developers, a figure he attributes to analyst IDC.

“That means we’re reaching one in three or four of New Zealand developers,” says Reeve, defining them as people who cut or manage code.

Reeve was last week leading an IBM developer roadshow which toured the three main centres, involving representatives of Industry New Zealand and the New Zealand Software Association. It’s part of an increased investment in partners and developers since the company exited the end-user application market, says Reeve. The spending, which he puts at about $US1 billion worldwide, is intended to combat the Microsoft developer network.

IBM is taking a different tack from Microsoft, however, and not attempting to stage local events of the scale of Tech Ed. According to Microsoft, Tech Ed in Auckland this month drew about 700 developers.

“We’re holding a series of focused events with different interest groups,” Reeve says, adding that comparison with Tech Ed is not meaningful. Its approach to the mass developer market is through developerWorks.

Partnering, which is how the company goes about satisfying customers’ application requirements, is not a new concept, says Industry New Zealand ICT sector director Liz Longworth. But Longworth endorses the approach, given that the government doesn’t have much money to dish out to help developers commercialise their products.

“There are huge challenges for New Zealand developers in going global,” Longworth says, and teaming up with IBM is one way they can go about it.

Ireland, to which the government looks for a lead in developing a thriving ICT export sector, has used that approach to good effect, she says.

According to Rollo Gillespie, head of the New Zealand Software Association, collaboration of the kind IBM is attempting to engage in is what the industry needs.

“Even IBM, when it attempts to provide end-user solutions, needs to collaborate,” Gillespie says.

When it comes to choosing a collaboration partner, IBM is a better bet than Microsoft, according the head of Auckland’s Straker Interactive, Grant Straker.

Straker is in the process of porting his company’s ColdFusion MX-based content management system to IBM’s WebSphere, confident that IBM would not attempt to compete with him in that market.

“When Microsoft wants to get into the CRM market, or whatever, it just goes out and buys a company. IBM is far more likely to support you.”

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