How IBM Bluemix inspired me to develop again
Jane Stockdill-Mander 110000EG3T firstname.lastname@example.org | | Tags:  devops_services cloud paas application_development ibm bluemix
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Recently I attended one of the 200 Bluemix days that IBM is running around the world. I wanted to share my experiences from the day for anyone who is interested in learning more or wondering whether to attend and what value it delivers.
Before I go into the details of the day, I wanted to share a bit about myself. I graduated from university with a computer science degree and started my career as a software developer. Seven years later, I changed jobs and worked in finance for two years before I moved back into the software lab as a team leader / project manager and currently I’m a product manager and people manager.
I wanted to share this to set some context; I haven’t written any code for around eight years even though I’ve remained involved with technology throughout my 15 year career.
Why did I want to learn more about Bluemix?
Why Bluemix days are for everyone
As everyone started arriving, I noticed there were people of all ages and from different companies with different backgrounds. I met with people starting their own businesses, business partners, sales reps, product managers, designers and developers. Immediately I felt more at ease and ready to learn about Bluemix.
What did the day cover?
We talked about the boilerplates available to get you started very quickly (think hello world type apps), and explored some of the different runtimes available so you can create
There is already a huge number to choose from across different capabilities including mobile, web and application, data management, big data, security and internet of things. Not only are there services provided by IBM, but also many from third parties and communities, with new services being added on a regular basis.
We went through some of the common operations around starting apps, checking on their health, and talked about how to either manually scale applications or let Bluemix take care of that for you.
The great news is that IBM has clearly put a lot of time into getting the design right, so although it was fantastic to have someone walk through this in a group session, it is self-explanatory if you wanted to play around with it on your own (and if you search online for Bluemix you’ll also find many people have done getting started tutorials and videos).
After this, it was time for the first hands on lab (this was the part where I was hoping I wouldn’t be out of my depth). The good news is that since the day was all about learning the Bluemix environment without a required knowledge of how to write code, the labs provided all the code anyone would need, and the instructions were fool proof. I managed to deploy and start an app from the boilerplate, from the command line using Cloud Foundry and from within IBM’s DevOps Services.
I did run into a couple of minor problems when I ran out of memory (just a matter of deleting some of the apps I’d created in the previous labs, as the trial limits the amount of memory you get) but there were plenty of Bluemix experts on hand to help out and there is already an active community where you can post questions should you need assistance.
The second session of the day was focused on the Bluemix architecture, and an overview of the Bluemix DevOps Services. This one did get more questions from the technical folks in the room, but was at a level that could be understood by anyone.
We then had a second lab where got the chance to play around with a Node.js app using DevOps Services. I really enjoyed this one, and I think it proved just how quick it really was to develop a fully functioning app. The app uses pre-existing services including a Twitter sentiment tool so you can type in a word and it will report back with a emoticon graphic representing whether the tweets on the subject are positive, neutral or negative. The best thing was, I now had the basics working, so during the lunch break I extended the app to also use weather forecasting information so that the emoticon it showed would only be happy if the Twitter sentiment was positive and it was warm in the geographic location specified. Ok, I admit that this not the most useful of apps, but the point was that I really did have the knowledge and tools in just a couple of hours to create something new.
After lunch, there was a short session on registering services in Bluemix, useful for any developers or business partners that want to monetize their services. Twilio is a great example of this, and one of their developers did an excellent live demo. Everyone was asked to turn ON their phones and send a text to a number he just registered using the Twilio service. This triggered an event that automatically called us back and played the Star Wars theme song when answered.
The final sessions of the day covered the architecture of Cloud Foundry and some of the upcoming services to be released shortly on Bluemix. We ended the day with time to complete one of a choice of three additional labs. We had the option of building a Twitter influencer app, building an android app using the mobile cloud boilerplate or migrating a Java enterprise application to run on Bluemix and modifying it to make use of a database service. You can try building the android app yourself following this developerWorks article.
The whole day was extremely educational and enjoyable for all skill levels, so I would encourage anyone to attend a Bluemix day to experience the value it can bring to you or your company, or alternatively, apply for the free trial and have a play for yourself.
You can connect with me on Twitter @JaneSM19 and I hope that like me, some of you are inspired to start developing again.