IBM is attempting to match some of its competitors by providing free on-line resources for its developer partners, and is finding new streams of interest from developers keen to learn about Web services.
IBM currently has 1.5 million registered developers using the developerWorks and alphaWorks portals, attracting 150 million page views in their two-year history. While Oracle recently claimed its technology network has over 14 million members, IBM's developer relations director Gina Poole said such statistics should be viewed with skepticism.
According to alphaWorks manager Daniel Jue, the alphaWorks portal is designed to allow IBM's developer partners to play with code from 90 per cent of IBM's $6 billion annual research and development program, which is not immediately used in commercial products. It offers over 200 free downloads of code, as well as tools to push new standards that IBM is involved in. It also offers developers unlimited distribution of the applications they develop with the code, for licensing fees as little as $US1000.
"Most people use the sites to keep their skills current and solve problems," Poole said.
Poole said the rush behind the development of Web services has been just as evangelised by the "code monkeys", as the vendors that are pushing the considerable dollars behind the phenomenon.
"If the developers don't pick up on them in the early stages, nothing happens," she said. "Linux and Java are examples of technologies where it was fuelled by a developer audience, before being backed by large vendors."
At present, Poole sees the developerWorks and the alphaWorks sites as "big candy stores", where developers can play with IBM's toys.