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IBM on Friday unveiled two new cloud-based services aimed at software developers looking to build applications in the cloud.

IBM Rational Software Delivery Services for Cloud Computing consists of application lifecycle management tools made available as cloud services so that developers, partners and customers can access them on an as-needed basis to build and test applications.

Secondly, Big Blue is kicking off a free public cloud beta for developers called IBM Smart Business Development and Test on the IBM Cloud that provides compute- and storage-as-a-service. Developers and partners can log on to this public cloud to access customizable virtual machines along with compute- and storage-as-a-service resources.

The offerings reflect a shift in the role of software, which has evolved from an operational expense-only to a strategic business asset deployed in organizations to drive core initiatives, according to Scott Hebner, vice president of marketing for IBM Rational.

“Software is the invisible thread of innovation and these days almost anything has software inside of it and it’s becoming more intelligent,” Hebner said.

The elevated role of software requires wise management and oversight, he said. The new cloud services are intended to help organizations both manage software assets while also driving down development costs. Because the services are cloud-based, partners and developers can consume them only when needed, which aligns well to project-based nature of software development.

“If you are trying to fix a bug and need to do so quickly, you typically spin off a team and use a tool that you don’t need after four months,” he said. “Now you don’t have to own that tool. It’s dynamic. You can turn it on and off for projects.”

IBM is also offering online workshops and other educational resources designed to train developers to build cloud-based applications.