IBM today announced two initiatives to advance its cloud computing efforts, including the opening of a new Bluemix Garage in Nice, France and a Cloud Foundry Dojo in the Research Triangle Park area of North Carolina.
The new Bluemix Garage in Nice will be IBM’s second such facility in Europe. IBM also has a garage in London. The Nice location will help European organizations of all sizes and industries accelerate the development and design of next-generation apps on IBM Cloud.
There are now four Bluemix Garage locations around the world. In addition to Nice and London, IBM has Bluemix Garages in San Francisco and Toronto. Dr. Angel Luis Diaz, IBM’s vice president of Cloud Architecture and Technology, told eWEEK IBM’s Bluemix Garages are physical hubs where multi-disciplinary teams, including developers, product managers and designers, can collaborate with IBM experts to rapidly innovate and deliver new technologies using IBM Cloud.
With the world’s developer population estimated to reach 20 million by 2020, IBM is poised to set up additional Bluemix Garage locations across the globe, Diaz said. The company already offers the capability to place “pop-up” garages anywhere, he said. However, as Europe has a base of 1.6 million developers, many of which are tapping into the cloud, mobile, Internet of things (IoT) and cognitive computing spaces, IBM saw a need to address the European market.
“These Bluemix Garages are where we have a space where developers can come in and create MVPs—minimal viable products—very quickly and get stuff out the door by being productive on IBM Cloud and Bluemix,” Diaz told eWEEK. “It’s been hugely successful. A lot of our enterprise clients want to behave like startups and a lot of our smaller and startup clients want to scale like enterprises. They can learn to do that at the garages.”
For instance, the London Bluemix Garage, launched in 2014, has grown into an innovation hub, Diaz said. In one project, the London team is working with Simon Wheatcroft, a blind ultra-marathon runner, to use IBM Cloud APIs and services, such as Cloudant, IBM’s database-as-a-service, to use data to monitor and pace him through a solo, 60-mile run through a desert in Namibia.
The garage teams are armed with IBM’s arsenal of cloud tools, which includes a continuously growing catalog of advanced APIs, including Watson cognitive APIs, as well as Twitter social sentiment analysis, IoT tools, and new forms of data such as video, weather intelligence from IBM’s acquisition of The Weather Company, and more.
There are currently more than one million developers using Bluemix and IBM is drawing 20,000 new developers to the Bluemix platform each week. Those developers are creating more than 120,000 new apps every month. “That brings a tear to my eye to see where we came from to where we are now,” Diaz said.
The Bluemix Garages do indeed follow a Bluemix Garage Method, which includes Agile development, the use of open models, as well as extreme programming, DevOps and more to reduce the time it takes to turn out new applications.
“When you’re able to get a group of developers in a location working together with IBMers using a well-defined approach with design thinking and the Bluemix Garage Method, which we’ve publicized, you can spend two weeks and come out with something you can put to market rather quickly,” Diaz said. “That’s what we do in these garages with our clients. We have clients in Nice who have been using the garage already and have created some interesting outcomes. One client was able to create an app in two weeks that helped them accelerate sales for their electronic bike rentals.”
Indeed, IBM said local Nice startup ADVANSOLAR, a sustainable mobility company, tapped IBM Cloud and design practices in the Garage to create its new electric bicycle rental services in just weeks—cutting the time needed to get to market by more than 50 percent. ADVANSOLAR worked with Garage experts to use IBM Cloud tools, including IoT, NodeRed and Node.JS services, to integrate external services and data to build its application.
“Working with IBM Cloud and design experts enabled us to quickly identify the most important features of our new service, and then build and deliver them rapidly,” said Raphael Briere, CEO of ADVANSOLAR, in a statement. “Combining the power, openness and agility of IBM Cloud with the Garage’s expertise enabled us to create a valuable product rapidly, and deliver our rental services at the right price for all our customers.”
Diaz said once the visitors to the garages get the sense of how to get projects out the door quickly and have speeded up their way of thinking and of getting applications out the door then they can start connecting these applications with their own enterprise applications.
IBM Launches New Bluemix Garage, Cloud Foundry Dojo
“Usually what happens is after a client spends some time in a Bluemix Garage and starts building applications and delivers value, it starts to grow within the company,” Diaz said. “The company wants to operationalize the method of using Bluemix and using the technology more efficiently.”
Meanwhile, IBM also announced it has opened a new Cloud Foundry Dojo in Research Triangle Park, N.C. Michael Fraenkel, IBM’s distinguished engineer in Cloud Foundry, will head up the facility, which is aimed at helping developers become Cloud Foundry committers, Diaz said.
It can typically take upwards of a year for a developer to gain committer status on an open-source project, he said. In some cases, it can take even longer. The Cloud Foundry Foundation offers this approach to gaining committer status in as little as six weeks, which is called the Cloud Foundry Dojo. The program allows developers to master Cloud Foundry by working shoulder to shoulder on the foundation projects with other Cloud Foundry engineers.
“It’s a little different than the Bluemix Garage in that the Bluemix Garage is about working with clients to build applications using IBM Bluemix, along with Cloud Foundry and our container technology,” Diaz said. “However, Dojos represent a different way of how to do open source. When we stood up the Cloud Foundry Foundation in December of 2014, we tried to improve the state of the art in open source development. When you look at how open source is done, typically a developers gets engaged in the community and then over time, they become a committer and they have the ability to change and influence code. What we wanted to do as Cloud Foundry was to accelerate that process of a developer being productive, understanding the system and being respected enough to become a committer. The thinking was if we could accelerate the committer status then we could accelerate the number of participants in the community.”
So the idea within the Cloud Foundry Foundation was to create and have people sponsor physical locations or Dojos, where Cloud Foundry committers could pair up with other developers and work on projects in the Cloud Foundry code base and then over time that would accelerate the ability for those new developers to become committers and add more value to the code base, Diaz said.
With that in mind, Cloud Foundry members began to sponsor Dojos. Pivotal sponsors one in San Francisco, GE has one in San Ramon, Calif., and EMC has one in Cambridge, Mass., with plans for another perhaps in New York City. This one in RTP, North Carolina is the first one sponsored by IBM.
“The interesting spin here is that we’re evolving the way open source is done,” Diaz told eWEEK. “We’ve been in this open source game for many years and we’re learning how to get people engaged in the open source community and become more productive more quickly. So if you can design a physical space you can progress a developer’s knowledge so much more quickly. I think you’ll see other open source organizations following suit as well.”
In a blog post on the new dojo, Diaz was a bit more eloquent.
“When developers help developers, it translates to accelerated innovation,” he said. “This new learning space serves as a training ground for aspiring Cloud Foundry developers, while simultaneously driving new innovation and continuous improvement to Cloud Foundry open source projects. The entire open source developer ecosystem—adopters and contributors alike—can benefit from a growing base of skilled Cloud Foundry developers and the increased pace of innovation thanks to shared code.”
Moreover, in his post, Diaz also features a comment from Cloud Foundry CEO Sam Ramji on the need for the dojos: “The dojo method provides a truly immersive approach to learning the process and methodology required to become a Cloud Foundry committer,” Ramji said. “By ensuring developers are educated on continuous innovation and paired programming, the dojo helps ensure a culture and skills match for full-time committers to the project.”
Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT, says the new IBM facilities in France and North Carolina address different, though complementary needs.
“The Bluemix Garage in Nice aims to expand IBM’s Bluemix PaaS cloud solutions and services in the EU zone, bolstering at extending the work being done at the company’s London Bluemix Garage—which was launched in 2014,” he said. “Like other IBM Dojos, the new facility in RTP is designed to give developers hands-on experience with IBM’s cloud tools and Cloud Foundry solutions. Both of these new facilities obviously aim to improve developers’ cloud skills and the work they perform either individually or for their employers. But they also clarify IBM’s belief in the key roles developers hold in shaping and driving cloud innovations. The company isn’t alone in that belief but the extent of IBM’s Garage and Dojo strategies underscores the depth of the company’s respect for and understanding of developer communities.”