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IBM BlueMix a PaaS standout with catalog features

IBM has joined the fray of different platform-as-a-service offerings with BlueMix, but what do cloud developers think?

This year, IBM introduced a platform as a service codenamed BlueMix, based on IBM's Open Cloud Architecture and its affiliation with Cloud Foundry. BlueMix is currently in beta, but it is publicly available for testing. The future for many organizations is to develop applications in the cloud, and this development will take place on platforms such as BlueMix.

IBM BlueMix's catalog of services

BlueMix has one of the better defined catalogs among current cloud providers. Because IBM based BlueMix on Cloud Foundry, there are some native Cloud Foundry services, as well as IBM's own services. The service catalog currently has a category called Boilerplates, which are complete application stacks that deploy all necessary components. These make it easier for developers to spin up apps; they select the concept they want and start coding. As of June, the boilerplates are:

In addition to boilerplates, the BlueMix catalog has a category called Runtimes that includes individual coding platforms. Some are IBM-developed, such as Liberty for Java and Node.JS, but others are based on open standards, such as Ruby on Rails and Ruby Sinatra. Cloud developers can also bring their own build pack/runtime.

Some PaaS features are geared to advanced developers, giving them all the pieces they then put together; but others, such as IBM BlueMix, give developers complete applications at their fingertips.

Add-ons are applications that allow the developer to manage and monitor the apps they develop. For example, developers can manage the scalability of their app with auto-scaling, create new application programming interfaces (APIs) to integrate to on-site system of records (SORs) with the CloudIntegration app, perform root cause analysis with the Monitoring and Analytics App and create quick visual applications with RapidApps. All add-ons are IBM-created services.

The largest selection of services falls under the Web and Application category, a group of enterprise-grade applications that have been developed by IBM and open source organizations. These apps perform a range of features and include:

  • CastIronLive (IBM)
  • DataCache (IBM)
  • Single-sign-on (IBM)
  • CloudAmpQ (third party)
  • Memcached Cloud (third party)
  • Twilio (third party)
  • RabbitMQ (community)
  • Redis (community)
  • Wearable Fitness (community)

The breadth of Web applications IBM has included in BlueMix makes it a very viable option to many other PaaS providers.

IBM BlueMix also includes Mobile, Data Management, Big Data and DevOps categories.

IBM BlueMix platform design

Another major differentiator of IBM is the design of the BlueMix platform, which makes interacting with IBM BlueMix an enjoyable experience. The interface is extremely intuitive, easy on the eyes and is fairly quick -- even for a beta. The visualization of the environments is also simplified to allow developers to understand things from an application perspective.

When developers log into BlueMix, it brings them to the Dashboard, where they can select "Create an Application" to deploy apps automatically. Or they can easily go to the catalog and select a service.

Use cases for BlueMix PaaS

As a PaaS, BlueMix's audience is 100% developers. However, every PaaS option simplifies different features for different developers. Some PaaS features are geared to advanced developers, giving them all the pieces to then put together; but others, such as IBM BlueMix, give developers complete applications at their fingertips.

The use cases for BlueMix are varied because of its many predefined applications. Its application creation option allows developers to use BlueMix for any number of apps -- as long as the developer can dream up the code. But with the predefined applications IBM has introduced, there are a few use cases that come to the forefront, especially the Internet of Things, Java Web Starter and Mobile Cloud.

At the time of the BlueMix beta, its pricing mechanism could not be evaluated.

IBM BlueMix is a well-thought-out version of Cloud Foundry that will be a major competitor. It has an intuitive interface, well-defined constructs and the same level of flexibility that Cloud Foundry is based upon. IBM has a winner in the BlueMix platform.

About the author:
Brad Maltz is in the CTO office of Lumenate, a national technical consulting firm focused on data center, security, end user experience and cloud technologies. He holds certifications from VMware and EMC for many technologies including being VCDX #36 and a vExpert.

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