Swift is ready for the enterprise

By Mike Gilfix, on


Today IBM is releasing the IBM Bluemix Runtime for Swift, available for public, dedicated and local deployments. To understand why this release is so critical for enterprise development, it’s worth revisiting why IBM embarked on our journey to bring Swift to the server┬ánine months ago when the language moved to open source.

Starting from the beginning
Cloud and mobile technology are unlocking new value for today’s enterprises. However, enterprises need a radically simpler way to leverage the Cloud in order to fully take advantage of the benefits.

Swift is already a first-class language for mobile. IBM experiences the benefits of using Swift for mobile application development every day with our growing list of IBM MobileFirst for iOS apps. Swift is intuitive and its inherent benefits enable us to build lightning fast, high-performance apps. We knew we wanted to extend this value to the cloud.

A recent study from IBM Institute for Business Value calls attention to the benefits of mobile apps for enterprises. Seventy-two percent of global executives plan at least five enterprise mobile initiatives over the next year with 21 percent expecting their enterprises’ revenue to increase at least 10 percent as a result of these initiatives. Another IBM study shows a similar story for cloud investments. Forty-two percent of executives said that strategically adopting hybrid cloud solutions both enhances operational efficiency and facilitates innovation.

Bringing Swift to the server unlocks the potential of this language for both mobile and cloud efforts. Since Swift moved to open source, IBM has been contributing to server-side efforts. At the same time, we’ve shared our tools and technologies for development of end-to-end Swift apps: the preview of the Swift runtime and release of the Kitura web framework and the IBM Swift Package Catalog in February followed by the release of IBM Cloud Tools for Swift and support for LinuxONE in June. We are blown away by the rapid adoption, support and excitement for Swift on the server. The IBM Swift Sandbox has more than two million code runs by developers of all experience levels from 133 countries. The community has contributed more than 2000 packages to the IBM Swift Package Catalog.

“As soon as Swift came out two years ago, developers from all over the world fell in love. Swift is fast, powerful, modern, easy to learn, safe, and clearly the way of the future. Last year, Swift became open source, so the long-standing dream of developers using one language across mobile (including Android) and web applications is finally coming true,” said Natasha Murashev, founder of NatashaTheRobot, try! Swift and This Week in Swift. “Swift on the server has been a popular topic at Swift and iOS community events such as meetups and conferences around the world, and in popular industry newsletters and blogs. Thanks to industry leaders such as IBM, the excitement for the future of Swift has continued to grow and capture the imaginations and creativity of both well-established and new community members alike.”

What’s new
With the release of Swift 3.0 just seven days old, we are excited to introduce a production-ready Swift runtime on the IBM Cloud that is optimized for Kitura to unlock all the server-side capabilities now available in Swift 3.0 for building microservice APIs on the cloud. With this release, IBM has fully enabled enterprises to build next-generation apps in native Swift from end-to-end, client side to server side, on the IBM Cloud.

Supporting Swift 3.0, the IBM Bluemix Runtime for Swift is optimized to deliver scalability, performance and rapid deployment of Swift microservice APIs and workloads in an IBM Bluemix environment (public, dedicated or local). This runtime integrates the latest IBM Swift buildpack with a sample application built with Kitura. In addition, our entire suite of Swift@IBM tools: Kitura, the Swift Package Catalog, Swift Sandbox and IBM Cloud Tools for Swift, is Swift 3.0 compliant and supports developers regardless of their starting point. To enable innovation on the cloud, the IBM Swift Package Catalog now includes IBM Watson services, IBM DB2 and DashDB, IBM Cloudant and Couchbase, IBM ObjectStore and Apache Cassandra.

IBM is the single leading enterprise Cloud provider offering modern app developers end-to-end Swift capabilities with a comprehensive set of tools.

A Swift path to productivity
From developers working in shops with just two or three people to CIOs leading large development teams with stretched resources, the Swift runtime and Swift@IBM tools provide a path to unmatched productivity and return on investment:

  • For mobile developers: To be competitive in the app marketplace today, mobile developers need to build apps that provide users with a rich experience. That is dependent upon access to smart analytics and cognitive services only available with a cloud back end. The Swift runtime enables mobile developers to take their existing mobile apps and easily create a dynamic back end using the Swift language. They can even move their code, as is, between client and server tiers to optimize their applications for performance, bandwidth, security and service access.
  • For enterprise developers: API management is a key component of enterprise development strategy. Enterprise developers responsible for creating the server technology and back end APIs will be able to use the Swift runtime and Kitura to streamline API creation and management. Swift is ideal for delivering on an API strategy as it typically requires less code, provides high performance, and is type-safe, all while using less memory, characteristics that make it ideal for cloud development.
  • For development managers and CIOs: Mobile and cloud development skills are in high demand and properly staffing teams for enterprise development is a challenge. With the Swift runtime in Bluemix, your developers will use the same language client side and server side, allowing them to repurpose their skills, share their code and rapidly deliver on the app and API backlog in most organizations. Developers already love Swift on the front end, it’s ranked second most-loved in Stack Overflow’s 2016 Developer Survey, and they will love how productive they can be when using the same language on the server side.

By unlocking Swift for use in the enterprise, IBM reached another milestone in our shared journey with Apple to help enterprises advance their mobile strategy. We are excited by the opportunities Swift presents and look forward to helping enterprises realize the productivity benefits when developing next generation apps.

Get started with Swift on the IBM Cloud today and share your feedback.

About The Author

Mike Gilfix

Vice President, MobileFirst and Smarter Process

Michael Gilfix is the Vice President of MobileFirst and Smarter Process. In this role, he has global responsibility for business management and product evolution for mobile application development as well as business process management and decision management technologies.

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