Social Coding: The Origins of IBM's Bluemix

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2016-03-31 Print this article Print
IBM Initiatives

“Bluemix gives you choice with consistency,” he said. “You build your application and you can run it on-premise, you can run it off premise so you do hybrid in a consistent way. So all of a sudden we have reduced the cost of what you need to do. You don’t have to worry about the infrastructure, you can get your containers, and you can get your application set up like that. The second is the candy store,” he said, referring to the Bluemix catalog of more than 140 tools and services spanning categories of big data, mobile, Watson, analytics, integration, DevOps, security and the Internet of things (IoT).

“If you’re a developer, when you walk in, you’re like, ‘Oh, my gosh, I’ve got all this stuff and I don’t know where to start right now,’” Diaz said. “It’s like why are you going to write voice recognition software or emotion detection software on a piece of English. You’ve got that from Watson. That propels you months ahead in development. And the third thing is the methodology. This is the important part. It’s the ability to take what you’ve got and scale out how you build it. You can use the DevOps tool chain.”

In an interview with eWEEK from 2014 not long after the launch of Bluemix, Steve Mills, who is now retired, but was formerly IBM’s executive vice president of software and systems, said: “Enterprises care a lot about hybrid. They want to integrate front end to back end--'I want to put this out in the cloud, but I want to move data back and forth.' And delivering those integration mechanisms and APIs is going to be the key differentiator for Bluemix. Allowing customers to create their own private workspaces where they have their components and things they want to put into the environment, again, is something I think we can excel in. Because we do understand the enterprise.”

IoT and Watson

With that in mind, Heredia said the two biggest draws for people coming to Bluemix are compute and storage--database and memory. “They are the bread and butter. Then IoT and Watson and mobile are definitely the bulk of the usage that is not runtime and data,” he said.

Cerebri AI, a Watson University Competition winner, is working with United Way for Greater Austin to help streamline the delivery of social services information across mobile platforms, ensuring crucial information is available when and where it is needed, especially for citizens without home Internet service. Cerebri gathers information on IBM Cloud about an app’s users, then Watson understands what the user is looking for, and uses the Tradeoff Analytics API to come up with a list of services that will most benefit the user.

“We began using Watson APIs to help people find the social services that they were looking for,” said Ryan Lund, co-founder and CEO of Cerebri AI. Through the course of the last year we focused on some of the Bluemix services. We’re using trade-off analytics from Bluemix. We’re also using others and we will be using more in the future. The variety and quality of technologies stood out and their ability to integrate it all together so that developers could use them. The proof is in the pudding. We started out with one API and we moved on to use others. It’s been extremely easy to work with. Without Bluemix we would be in a rough situation. Bluemix is really the core of the technology that we have because of the access to the APIs. I don’t know if a day goes by that one of our developers doesn’t touch something that is impacted by Bluemix. We were introduced to Bluemix from our relationship with Watson.”

Birth of the Bluemix Garage

Meanwhile, for IBM’s part, Reinitz told eWEEK the idea for Bluemix Garages was born during a meeting between herself and Steve Robinson as they were thinking about how to engage with clients and show them that Bluemix was a key platform for building engaging applications. The desire to help clients innovate in a new way and take themselves out of their own environments was part of it, she said.

However, another part of it was some cogent input from Jim Deters, CEO and co-founder of Galvanize, whose San Francisco campus houses IBM’s first Bluemix Garage, Reinitz said. “We asked him how can we be authentic and how could we be taken seriously [by the startup community] and he said you should be part of it,” she said. “So for us to be a platform for developers of all different kinds of backgrounds, including startups and millennial developers, it made a lot of sense. And we said let’s try it.”



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