Linaro hopes a new cloud environment where developers can test code for ARM platforms will help drive innovation in the ARM space and lead to new server, cloud and IoT solutions that take advantage of the ARM architecture.

The company, which focuses on open source software for ARM chips, announced the news at its Linaro Connect event this month in Bangkok. Called Developer Cloud, the platform is based on OpenStack, the open source cloud computing operating system, in conjunction with the Debian and CentOS GNU/Linux distributions.

The goal of the new platform is to provide an environment where programmers can more easily test software designed to run on ARM platforms, the company said. In turn, it hopes that will drive ARM innovation.

"As the adoption of ARM based servers accelerates and IoT applications rapidly evolve, software developers need access to hardware and easy to use software reference platforms," said George Grey, CEO of Linaro. "The Linaro Developer Cloud is designed to broaden the availability of the latest hardware to developers globally, and to enable commercial and private cloud providers to utilize the implementation to accelerate deployment of their own offerings. Linaro will publish the end to end open source code for the implementation of the Developer Cloud."

The Linaro Developer Cloud has been a long time in the making, according to the company. It represents "the combination of ARM-based silicon vendors' server hardware platforms, emerging cloud technologies, and many Linaro member driven projects, including server class boot architecture, kernel and virtualization," Linaro said in a statement. "These projects have been under development since the formation of the Linaro Enterprise Group (LEG) and Linaro has already been enabling key developers via remote access to bare metal ARM servers for the last year."

In a sense, ARM-based servers and cloud platforms have become something like the Year of the Linux Desktop: There has been much talk and anticipation about them, but they have so far failed to materialize in a massive way.

That said, the entry of IoT into the mix could help move things forward. IoT devices represent a more obvious environment for leveraging ARM hardware in conjunction with open source software. And if they become popular, the jump to enterprise-ready ARM servers and cloud solutions (which Red Hat and Qualcomm are already seeking to advance through a partnership announced last week) will become a more feasible leap. For these reasons, it seems logical to make a stronger bet on ARM's long-term impact on the channel, as Linaro has done with the launch of the Developer Cloud.