The IBM Cloud, previously know as IBM BlueMix, seems to be getting a lot of press lately. More and more of our commerce customers are asking about Watson and this development platform. The platform has been greatly expanded over the past few years and is now considered a first class cloud development platform. As outlined here, this has turned into $15 Billion of revenue for IBM and seems to be growing each quarter. The IBM Cloud is now ranked in the top 5 cloud platforms by Bob Evans, displacing Google and Oracle and Bob seems to hint it will probably be moving further up the list. It is no coincidence that one of the key elements to this platform is Watson and the cool API’s it brings to the table. I am seeing some amazing integrations being done into existing applications with some of these Watson API’s. But what is more interesting is the full life cycle development a team can do 100% in the cloud.
I have been hearing a lot about the different courses offered on the IBM Skills Gateway so I decided to try one. Since I have been working with BlueMix for a bit I figured it would be easy to go through the BlueMix Essentials course and earn the badge, I squeaked by the test with a 90% (you need an 80% to earn the badge, so make sure you REALLY pay attention as there are only 10 questions).
I have to say I am pretty impressed with the way the course played out; mixing video, text, and lab content into a seamless straightforward experience. You can stop and start as you will, it will just keep track of where you left off. I got a little impatient with a few videos but that was only because I was familiar with most of the material, however it makes you finish watching each video – so no skipping around! I really like this course because if anything, it teaches you how to setup an application, make code changes locally, and then deploy those changes to the BlueMix cloud. Make sure you before you actually do the lab you watch the lab video. I kept making the mistake of just doing the lab as described and then I was forced to watch a 10-12 minute video of the instructors walking through the lab. It explains how to install the different tools you may need, walks you through all configurations, using the command line Cloud Foundry tools (cf), and using Eclipse as your IDE for your project.
Finding courses is very easy and many are free! You can filter courses by duration, category, product group, and skill level.
You can take courses that are instructor led or self-paced. Some courses are a combination of reading material and videos, while others may contain hands on labs, or may just be a simple article like An introduction to InfoSphere Streams. If you really like the concept of badges, which in my opinion are similar to certfications, then you can search for them here. The badge system is a partnership with Acclaim and it uses Open Badges which can then be posted to your social profiles, like on LinkedIn.
I am still waiting for my first badge, I guess some badges could take from 1-2 weeks to get. I would be interested to hear others experience with this process. Meanwhile, I think I might earn a few more badges and beef up my own technical arsenal!
Today, as I processed the pending membership requests on LinkedIn for the IBM Bluemix group, we surpassed 3,000 members! In less than two years the group continues to grow and membership and activity have grown regularly each week. Keep promoting it and keep posting important material to the group!
While the group has some good discussions and examples of how BlueMix is used, if you prefer video then you should consider checking out the YouTube channel dedicated to IBM BlueMix, which is run by the Developerworks team:
Slack has become a very popular collaboration tool for developers and designers. Think of LinkedIn groups combined with a Facebook or Twitter feed that is isolated to only the team members participating. It is equivalent to an on going persistent eMeeting chat that never ends, is searchable, and most of all, captures all conversations around a topic in a single place. Some argue Slack is the end of email and other collaboration techniques, specifically around projects.
In this video Yu Cao demonstrates how to setup Cloudbot for slack where you can then chat with the bot to get information about your your BlueMix applications.
“Cloudbot is a ChatOps bot platform built to be deployed on IBM Bluemix that integrates services and tools into a development or operations team’s workflow in a collaborative chat environment.” – link
Long ago we use to dream about writing server software in the language we write the client software in. Then came Java, the end to all arguments, Java everywhere, etc. The only problem was there were a few camps that didn’t totally buy into Java everywhere and in some cases banned the virtual machines existing on devices, like the Apple products. Similar to what happened with Adobe Flash. I do believe this was a huge step in killing Java, in the end, people are going to choose the popular language but having a strong ecosystem on both ends is critical for programming languages. I have to mention .NET because it really has achieved this nirvana for the Microsoft world. The .NET platform is certainly a platform to be reckoned with, it even runs on Linux. The biggest problem for .NET is according to WinBet.org Microsoft’s market share in the United States is only 2.8% for mobile devices – if this was a Presidential candidate they would be bowing out by now.
So now we have a dilemma, we are back to different client and server languages. Interestingly enough, the IBM BlueMix services are REST base so you don’t really care what the server platform is, however, if you are developing the server and the client facing application you do care what languages are used. So I started seeing myself creating Node applications in BlueMix and Swift based applications for the devices – two very different languages and skill sets needed; and I am still not a good Swift programmer even after a couple of apps.
Now comes what I consider a huge announcement:
We can now take an awesome full featured language like Swift and use it in both server and client applications. And most will agree Swift is an amazing and fun language to program in. Think of Swift as the language of the best of the rest. Swift brought in the best features from many languages all rolled up into one.
The question is how long will this last? Will it grow the Apple marketshare? Could this be the nirvana we are looking for? I am very interested in hearing others feedback on this.
So now all of you Apple iOS developers should go over to the IBM Swift page and check out what Swift you can do on the BlueMix servers!