IBM announced today a set of cloud services that will allow developers to develop and test cloud applications. In addition, IBM is offering free compute and storage for developers using the IBM platform.

IBM Smart Business Development and Test on IBM Cloud is designed to remove burdens from developers who spend a lot of time setting up their own test environments for applications. By using this kind of a cloud service, developers can test in a fraction of the time, compared to more traditional methods.

This has the potential to translate into a competitive advantage. By speeding up development, companies can move products faster to market.

The service supports third-party and open-source tools. IBM is targeting IT managers who often are managing hundred of projects on an annual basis.

IBM will also offer its service as a private cloud infrastructure. A private cloud infrastructure service is often designed for people who prefer governance and control over their own environment.

The IBM offering is in some respects a collaboration platform for engineers and IT managers. They can share projects and do development and testing. It further permits distributed teams to collaborate on development projects.

IBM is taking the right approach. They are focusing on education as a key component of the offering. They offer their own social network which serves as a resource for developers and IT managers. Cloud computing is still quite abstract for people and education helps customers feel more comfortable about making investments in cloud services. It helps mitigate the risk factor.