What took so long? It’s four days into the new year and IBM (s ibm) just made its first acquisition of 2012 — it is buying Green Hat, a company that simulates application testing in the cloud.

This acquisition, terms of which were not disclosed, is all about IBM building up its automated software-testing portfolio and is just the latest proof point that cloud-deployed applications need the same sort of pre-deployment QA testing that business users demand of in-house applications. Increasingly, developers of both on-premises and cloud applications want to use virtual servers in the cloud to test out their work before releasing it into the real world. IBM itself is no stranger to this scenario, having launched IBM’s Smart Business Develop and Test Cloud two years ago.

The difference between existing IBM testing tools and Green Hat is that the latter simulates the application running on the cloud backend…

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