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This article is part of our Conference Coverage: IBM Think 2019 coverage: Spotlight on data and AI analytics

Mendix deepens native integration with IBM Cloud, Watson AI

IBM cloud users gain low-code options, as Mendix's re-engineered platform natively integrates with IBM Cloud services, particularly Watson AI and Kubernetes container orchestration.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Mendix and IBM have deepened their partnership to more broadly support low-code developers with cloud-based AI and Kubernetes services.

Mendix re-engineered its low-code application development platform to better integrate with IBM Cloud services -- in particular, through drag-and-drop functionality with Kubernetes containerization and the Watson AI service. The goal is to address rising demand for in-house enterprise applications, as businesses transform to digital organizations.

In return, the Mendix low-code platform also helps expose IBM's AI services to a broader ecosystem of developers, with new features that simplify not only application development, but also procurement, said Jason McGee, vice president and CTO of the IBM Cloud platform, here at the IBM Think 2019 conference.

Mendix's platform enhancements for the IBM Cloud infrastructure include integrated support for Kubernetes container orchestration across public, private and hybrid clouds to migrate legacy systems or build new microservices-based systems, said Erno Rorive, senior product manager at Boston-based Mendix.

Erno Rorive, senior product manager at MendixErno Rorive

Additionally, single sign-on for Mendix users on the IBM Cloud lets them access IBM's catalog of applications without the need for multiple logins or passwords. The companies also streamlined integrated billing for customers on the IBM Cloud, Rorive said.

From a strategic perspective, this tighter Mendix-IBM integration is a big deal for IBM, because it's essentially a low-code platform "on-tap" for nondevelopers to experiment with Watson cognitive services in combination with other IBM APIs, said Torsten Volk, an analyst at Enterprise Management Associates in Boulder, Colo.

At this point, AI and machine learning are all about experimentation and evaluation by people with domain knowledge.
Torsten Volkanalyst, Enterprise Management Associates

Mendix has catered to this group for years, while the IBM Watson group has struggled to simplify the AI and machine learning user experience, he said. IBM R&D also can learn how Watson performs in various repetitive lower-profile situations, which is critical to further product improvements and broader appeal among developers.

"At this point, AI and machine learning are all about experimentation and evaluation by people with domain knowledge," Volk said.

Indeed, IBM needs use cases and tools for its new hybrid cloud offering, said Holger Mueller, an analyst at Constellation Research. Mendix by itself is a leading low-code platform, and under Siemens' ownership, it gains a lot of IoT and industrial credentials and customer potential, he said.

That integration enables business users to tap low-code platforms to build last-mile services and next-gen apps that professional developers would never have time, desire and priority to build, Mueller said.

Siemens acquired Mendix last year for about $730 million, but one of the conditions was that Mendix maintain its autonomy to support strategic partners such as IBM and SAP, which both use and resell Mendix's low-code software tool, Rorive said.

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