IBM will soon offer software development and testing services through its public cloud, adding to a private cloud option launched in June 2009, the company said.

Conducting development and testing with an elastic pool of cloud infrastructure is supposed to save IT shops money, since that work no longer has to tie up a fixed set of machines, much of which may sit idle at times. In addition, cloud-based development can help programmers work more nimbly, since resources can be called up as needed, without the holdups associated with reserving time and space on in-house systems, proponents say.

Big Blue also released a list of cloud partners, including RightScale and Kaavo, which make cloud management software, security vendor Navajo Systems, performance monitoring software maker AppFirst and application development vendors Aviarc, Corent and Wavemaker.

IBM's public cloud development and test service also employs virtualisation technology from Red Hat and supports Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Novell's SUSE Linux and Java.

It is set for availability in the second quarter in the US and Canada, with a global release occurring during the rest of the year. It will compete with public cloud infrastructure vendors like Amazon Web Services and Rackspace, both of which have formed similar partnerships.

But IBM could have a competitive edge over those companies, given its long track record in enterprise IT and the widespread use of its Rational software development tools.

To the latter end, IBM announced Rational Software Delivery Services for Cloud Computing v1.0 on Tuesday.