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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

IBM Bluemix – Good news for cloud enterprise-class application development, testing and deployment

By Rich Ptak



Bluemix is IBM’s extensively featured cloud platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) for building, managing and running applications of all types. In February of 2014, IBM began an Open Beta of the platform, providing access for interested developers, students and researchers.  We described the platform, support and training programs available at that time here: (https://tinyurl.com/mzagdq9).  Bluemix offers a complete, robust, Dev/Ops environment, built on open standards, equipped to develop and run apps in any cloud-friendly language with integration services to existing systems of record. Developers can access a rich library of IBM, 3rd party and open source runtimes, services and APIs.

Over the last three months, IBM, partners and 3rd party participants have added a range of extensions to the platform in the run-up to a General Availability (GA) announcement. With the June 30th GA, (a full quarter before IBM originally planned), Bluemix enters the market fully tested by IBM and customers with documented success of its benefits and impressive support provided by IBM and partner staffs. Applications written using the open source services in Cloud Foundry could be moved between compatible Cloud Foundry implementations. Applications can also be developed/tested/tuned on Bluemix then moved to another platform, as well as vice versa.  Both of these capabilities have been done by users.

New services from IBM include Workflow, Geospatial Analytics, Application User Registry, MQ Light, Gamification, Embeddable Reporting, Appscan Mobile Analyzer, and Continuous Delivery Pipeline. Services from 3rd Party partners include Mongo Labs, Load Impact, BlazeMeter, SendGrid, RedisLabs, ClearDB (MySQL), CloudAMQP (RabbitMQ), ElephantSQL (PostgreSQL), etc. It is also worth highlighting that Bluemix includes a strong environment for the development, testing, and management of mobile as well as other applications.

Developers have access to the infrastructure resources, tools and assets they need (and know) – on-demand and when they need it. They don’t have to worry about or wait for infrastructure availability virtual or otherwise. Everything needed for app development, test, deployment and management is available in the cloud.

IBM’s intends Bluemix to be used for developing all kinds of applications. However, it is optimized for the cloud-centric nature of mobile, web and big data applications.  The environment’s open standards nature allows customers to move apps (as long as they only use open standard services). As an incentive to stay, IBM will provide compelling value from its middleware portfolio (e.g. mobile, Watson, analytics, etc.) only on Bluemix.

IBM continues to offer 30-days of free-trial use to encourage developers to become familiar with Bluemix services and tools. After that, fees are based on usage. This means you pay only for the amount of resources consumed. Runtime charges are based on the GB-hours an application runs. During the free 30-day trial, you get a maximum of 2GB. Once usage fees begin, you still get 375GB hours per month free. Pricing for services and add-ons can be flat-rate or metered; some have a free allowance each month. Details including pricing are here:  https://developer.ibm.com/bluemix/2014/06/30/general-availability/. The pricing appears to compare favorably against the competition.

Where’s the Value?

Bluemix is a true Platform-as-a-Service offering, designed with the interests of both the developer and enterprise in mind. It focuses on allowing the developer/enterprise to focus completely on creating and delivering value in terms of new products and services for their customers – while IBM takes all the responsibility to provide and maintain the infrastructure, development, testing and management tools and software.

For the enterprise, additional value comes from the ability to quickly access and deploy their services on a global infrastructure. Also, since Bluemix is built on top of SoftLayer, applications can be easily moved to the SoftLayer environment if you want to have control over the infrastructure. Applications can also be moved from one IBM datacenter to another at no cost. Bluemix provides a globally-supported environment for the deployment of a service. It dramatically expands the geographic reach of a company without the adding the expense of a remote presence.

The Final Word
Part of IBM”s goal with Bluemix was to ease and speed the transition of IT and enterprises (of all sizes) to the cloud environment. It does so by providing the tools, functionality and infrastructure that allows the developer the flexibility to use the language, tools and techniques they are most familiar with. This speeds development, testing and delivery of new solutions which increases developer productivity and enterprise agility. We recommend that potential evaluate the benefits and cost of IBM’s Bluemix against. As we said earlier, we expect that: “many will decide to increase and expand their participation to their own as well as their employer’s significant benefit.”

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