IBM Buys StrongLoop To Add Node.js API Development To Its Cloud Platform

IBM has today made another acquisition to expand its business in cloud services — specifically in the area of enterprise app development. It has acquired StrongLoop, a startup based in San Mateo that builds application development software for enterprises using the open source JavaScript programming language Node.js. This in turn enables enterprises to build mobile and cloud-based apps equipped with APIs to integrate with each other and handle high volumes of data between mobile, web and Internet-of-Things apps.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. StrongLoop had raised $9 million in funding from Shasta and Ignition Partners, including an $8 million round in 2013.

IBM says it will be integrating StrongLoop’s Node.js features into its wider software portfolio to sit alongside MobileFirst and WebSphere. The main benefit of adding a Node.js development framework is to address a demand from enterprises who are interested in building apps with APIs that can handle large amounts of data and also connect on the back-end with other enterprise applications. (It should also help IBM compete better with the likes of Amazon, which has been offering a Node.js development platform since 2013.)

IBM says Node.js is one of the fastest-growing frameworks for developers, which also may point to demand that IBM has been seeing directly from its customers. “Enterprises are focused on digital transformation to reach new channels, tap new business models, and personalize their engagement with clients,” said Marie Wieck, general manager, Middleware, IBM Systems, in a statement. “APIs are a critical ingredient. By bringing together StrongLoop’s Node.js capabilities to rapidly create APIs with IBM’s leadership in Java and API Management on our cloud platform, we are unlocking the innovation potential of two vibrant development communities.”

IBM says that from today, Node.js developers can use IBM’s Bluemix, the company’s platform-as-a-service offering. “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,” the company says. It will also give users access to IBM’s data analytics and its Watson AI platform.

For StrongLoop, this will give the company a much bigger window for its tech and for Node.js in general. “With this acquisition, the industry benefits from Node.js’ formal entry into the mainstream enterprise,” said Juan Carlos Soto, Chief Executive Officer, StrongLoop, in a statement. “As leaders in the Node.js open community, we plan to further advance open, community-driven innovation coupled with global, enterprise class software and services offerings to grow client value in the API economy.”

Node.js is an open source technology and IBM intends to use the acquisition to further its ties to that community. It is a founding member and Platinum member of Node.js Foundation.

While some aspects of this service will be immediately available, others will take some time to come online. Specifically, it notes that “select cloud capabilities from today’s StrongLoop acquisition are expected to be incorporated into the IBM IoT Foundation, along with Bluemix, IBM’s platform-as-a-service, security and analytics to provide enterprises access to a powerful IoT platform that derives insight from sensor-driven data.”

It says it will provide global support — covering translation support for Chinese (simplified and traditional), Japanese, French, German, Italian, Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese — by the second half of 2016.