Bluemix is IBM's new cloud based service for application development. Basically this is a so called PaaS - a platform as a service. This is similar to SaaS, a managed environment but without having a pre-configured software installed like IBM Connections. This service ends on the OS layer, where - in this case - it doesn't matter what OS is running underneath. The key part is that you can add various runtimes and services on top of that virtualized environment - and remove them as easily again. Update: IBM DeveloperWorks published a video that says you can also "get" a dedicated Bluemix existing on a single SoftLayer environment and that is separated from the "public" Bluemix part. Still in the cloud, but some kind of an "own" and hosted environment - IBM seems to listen to their (and our) customers!
It's easy to start over
First you have to create an account - or use your existing IBM ID to sign in to Bluemix. IBM ran a beta phase until the end of September 2014. From October 1st you have to register/upgrade your account with adding credit card and company information. But no worries: if you choose the minimal configurations to all your apps and services no fees will be charged at all. Even the credit card doesn't have to correlate with your company. From December 16th this service is also available for private users.
I have to state that this browser based service is the best, cleanest and most intuitive service that IBM offered ever:
- The UX is simple enough to be not confused
- All you need is accessible right from the dashboard
- Hints and messages are clean and directly expressed
- Though it's just started there's a huge number of resources to learn from (DeveloperWorks community, Blogs, White Papers)
As written before IBM charges fees for service when you use more than the basics. Using basic configurations and settings there will be no fees at all - this is different from other vendors and providers. If you are a developer you don't want to deal with complicated pricing models and stuff - and so you don't have to with Bluemix, too. If you just want to get started you can do it without any costs - look after that at the competitors!
I want more!
So, if you want your apps to consume more space, memory or services you can easily let the system calculate the price for it - with a single click in your dashboard.
Bluemix is divided into two main sections: runtimes and services.
Basically a runtime is an environment your application is about to run on (in), for example "Liberty for Java" or "Node.js". If you are a web developer you would choose "Node.js", if you are planning to create a JEE app you choose "Liberty". Latter is a Websphere Application Server 8.5.
There is a huge amount of services you can use, e.g. databases, toolkits, helpers and even IBM Watson technology (sic!). So your application on the prior choosen runtime will need at least one of those services.
Several other runtimes and services are planned. My latest informations (taken from slides I've seen at conferences) state that there are also plans to implement runtimes like ".xsp" (yeah, IBM XPages!) and also "Domino" - to deliver basic server functions from our beloved platform like mail, NSF access and replication (sic!).
Last week at the DNUG conference I learned that I can use Git repositories to manage my apps. The apps are being built and provided automatically after they have been changed. What I learned so far from just 2 hours of dabbling around with them there are still some rules you have to obey. I didn't find a solution until now but I am confident to manage it later.
Another very positive impression is the supporting experience. IBM launched a separated section in DeveloperWorks' community forum around Bluemix like StackOverflow. The topics and entries are countable but increasing in these days - remember that this is a very young platform. In addition I am lucky to have some resources in the Bluemix Advocates' community, namely Susann Heidemüller and Niklas Heidloff.
I am looking forward to use Bluemix a lot more. I hope to get used to it soon to provide you with blog posts other than XPages :-)