This week IBM has made several key announcements at its Pulse Cloud Conference (you can watch replays of sessions and announcements here). My absolute personal favorite of these new products and services is the new Platform as a Service (PaaS) offering called BlueMix, which is based on the open source Cloud Foundry and adds great number of pre-packaged services and capabilities on top of the Cloud Foundry itself. These add-on capabilities include Messaging Service (WebSphere MQ based), SQL Service (DB2 based), Cache Service (WXS based), Big Data service, Analytics Service, Mobile Service, Connector Services, Data Transformation Services, Non-Relational DB service, and a couple of dozen other services. In addition to providing IBM supported services, there are community services (Mongo DB, PostgreSQL, MySQL, JSON DB, RabbitMQ, and many other services from several different contributors.
BlueMix is not limited to Java only (WebSphere Liberty based), it also supports Node.js, Ruby on Rails and allows you to bring your own runtime. BlueMix is now available as free open beta and you can sign up for it now.
You might ask – if this is Cloud Foundry based, why would I want to use IBM BlueMix and not somebody else’s Cloud Foundry? That is a great question!
- Remember Eclipse? Eclipse itself is not that useful, unless you install plugins for Java, XML, etc. Same thing with Cloud Foundry Foundation (announced this past Monday). There is a bare bones platform and there are plugins (build packs, services, runtimes, etc.). IBM BlueMix has 24 services and 3 runtimes in the open beta and services are being added weekly. That is one way for vendors to differentiate.
- Another differentiation is the QoS (Quality of Services) – how well do all those services run? Are they reliable? Would you have lost or duplicate messages and transactions?
- What is the performance and SLA of those runtimes and services?
- Can you run in the cloud and on premise? (current BlueMix beta is only available on IBM SoftLayer public cloud, but I expect this to change)
- Ease of use
- Cost (perpetual license on-prem or hourly usage when hosted)
As you can see, it makes a lot of sense for multiple vendors to collaborate on the shared PaaS framework and enhance it with their own extensions and capabilities. In theory those extensions and services should be portable between multiple PaaS products so long as those named PaaS products all use the same Cloud Foundry Foundation’s platform. Even more important, 3rd party vendors building “plugins” for Cloud Foundry should be able to plug into any Cloud Foundry compatible implementation with relative ease. Just like Java EE applications are portable between compliant servers (WebSphere, WebLogic, JBoss, GlassFish, etc.) – same with Cloud Foundry based applications. PaaS is a new black.
Why am I so excited about BlueMix and why should you? Some existing IBM customers already took advantage of the great ease of use and ultra-fast deployment by using patterns engine in the IBM Workload Deployer (IWD) product – also built into the IBM PureApplication System. I should mention that the pattern engine from IWD has been moved into the IBM SmartCloud Provisioning (SCP) product. Those who use IWD, SCP or IBM PureApp have been taking advantage of the IaaS and (partly) PaaS provided by IBM since 2008 (here is a 5 min demo). However the IWD was primarily targeted at the WebSphere branded products. Yes, you could deploy complex cluster topologies of WAS, IHS, DB2, WXS, LDAP, Portal, BPM, WSRR, WMQ, WMB, etc. with one click, but what about non-IBM products? As a large organization you do not want to be using different tool for every vendor. This is why IBM moved our pattern engine into SCP and this is why we are now shipping BlueMix. IBM wants its PaaS customers to provision, run and manage any software, not only IBM software.
Go ahead and sign up for the free beta, build and run your application on IBM BlueMix for free and better yet – build your service and contribute it to the BlueMix library of available services (think of it as the App Store for services).