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IBM BlueMix a daunting combo of DevOps and IaaS

IBM touts a grand vision for unifying DevOps with automated IaaS, but the concept is still in early beta and the market is nowhere near ready for it.

NEW YORK— IBM has trotted out a new concept it calls BlueMix, a combination of DevOps and Infrastructure as a Service, but its practical application lies far in the future.

In theory, BlueMix could move cloud computing forward by uniting agile application development with the underlying infrastructure once and for all. It combines application services with a software-defined, programmable and automated underlying infrastructure that would eventually use analytics, rather than human input, to provision resources. It would all be glued together with application program interfaces (APIs), and all delivered by IBM, of course.

But even IBM's CTO acknowledged the concept's complexity, saying it's not intended for every application.

"Note that I didn't say it was easy; it's possible," said Danny Sabbah, IBM CTO and general manager of its next-generation platform group, during a keynote at Cloud Computing Expo here this week.

You could explain virtualization to IT people. With cloud you can lose half the room in five minutes when you present on the way things are, let alone where they're going to be.

Dan Griffith, an architect with a major retailer

BlueMix is in private beta under IBM's jStart client engagement group for emerging technologies. There will be a SoftLayer region devoted to the technology, Sabbah said.

Despite IBM's public commitment to OpenStack, BlueMix does not support OpenStack yet. Sabbah was quick to point out under questioning from the audience that IBM intends to continue with OpenStack and to work with other vendors on interoperability between OpenStack-based IaaS offerings.

Attendees here were interested in BlueMix, but said most organizations aren't even close to the level of operational maturity it would require to put into practice.

"It's coming, but the amount of groundwork that has to be done to get from the data center reality right now to where [BlueMix] is going to be is more than just significant; it's daunting," said Dan Griffith, an architect with a major retailer that has standardized on IBM server hardware but has yet to put its cloud and virtualization strategies together.

The IT landscape continues to grow and become more complex as vendors put forth ever more intricate architectures, Griffith said.  

"You could explain virtualization to IT people," Griffith said. "With cloud you can lose half the room in five minutes when you present on the way things are, let alone where they're going to be."

Cloud consultant Anthony Pagano, director of StrataScape Technologies, an IT services firm based in Philadelphia, agreed the market isn't really ready for BlueMix yet, but said he likes that the option is out there for advanced IT shops to explore.

 Beth Pariseau is senior news writer for Write to her at or follow @PariseauTT on Twitter.


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Griffith is right that the landscape is getting more complex and yet the promise of cloud computing cries out for simplification. Enterprises are struggling today with the need to accelerate application development, giving them a competitive advantage in the market. DevOps, for many, is the answer to this need and cloud computing can greatly accelerate DevOps initiatives. While it may seem that enterprises are not ready for BlueMix, I’d beg to differ as we are implementing cloud-based DevOps for multiple customers. Here’s a recent blog post on achieving agility through cloud-based DevOps:
- Shawn Douglass, CTO, ServiceMesh