IBM Opens Bluemix Garage in NY for Devs Working on Blockchain Tech

A new workshop opened last week in New York where developers can fine- tune their blockchain software.

IBM has set up a Bluemix Garage in SoHo within a Galvanize campus that also just opened in town. The “garage” is a place where local developers, from startups and enterprises alike, can collaborate with tech experts and use IBM’s Bluemix cloud development platform to produce new software and apps.

Each garage has a staff that includes developers versed in programming languages such as Java and Swift, software architects focused on scaling up applications, and designers, says Shawn Murray, IBM’s worldwide director of Bluemix Garages.

The SoHo garage offers workshops to help developers take their ideas from wireframe prototypes to minimum viable products, he says. Typically, each company sends a team that may include their own developers, a designer, a business decision maker, and a technical decision maker, who then work with the experts on hand, Murray says. The New York location specializes in financial services, he says, because of the depth of the financial industry in the city and the overall growth of blockchain technology.

Blockchains are ledgers of Bitcoin transactions, which can provide trusted records in the semi-anonymous world of cryptocurrency. Startups, such as Cambridge Blockchain, and big companies are delving into this niche, which seems to be gaining momentum. “We believe that New York, with the financial services there, is a focal point for blockchain in the United States,” Murray says.

In setting up its New York campus, Galvanize made a $65 million investment in the space at 315 Hudson Street, which also houses the new garage.

Galvanize, headquartered in Denver, is a network of education campuses that train developers, data scientists, and other tech professionals, as well as giving startups a place to grow. Murray says the arrangement for the SoHo campus is comparable to the San Francisco-based Bluemix Garage, which operates out of the Galvanize campus there.

Bluemix Garages, an initiative IBM started about two years ago, can also be found in London; Nice, France; Singapore; and Toronto, Canada. Murray says that in a few weeks a Melbourne, Australia, shop will open. “We expect more sites will come online over the next few months; we’re looking at additional locations,” he says.

IBM sets up each of these shops within a coworking or incubator-type space, Murray says. The London site was established in cooperation with WeWork, for instance. The relationships IBM has with the operators of these spaces lets the garages expand their operations as needed. For example, when the New York site at Galvanize was temporarily at capacity, additional clients were sent to a WeWork location in town that had room. Murray says more space for the garage is being built at the Galvanize campus, and is expected to open next year.

Obviously, these garages give IBM yet another way to put its Bluemix cloud platform in front of developers, by offering it as a medium for the creation of new apps and software. While the New York location is dedicated to blockchain and other fintech development, Murray says some of the other garages specialize in such technology areas as the Internet of Things and IBM’s Watson cognitive computing.

Companies may come to the garages wanting help building out a specific idea, Murray says, but the workshops may lead them in entirely new territory. IBM’s enterprise customers in particular, he says, are looking for ways to innovate as more nimble and disruptive startups change the business models of their respective industries. “A lot of them come into the garage wanting to build a model app, but what we end up doing is help them think differently about the problem,” Murray says.

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