Live from IBM InterConnect: Bluemix, DevOps and PaaS
In a recent post I wrote about how software as a service (SaaS) has taken off and is now the biggest of the three traditional pillars of cloud computing. Of the other two, infrastructure as a service (IaaS) is already a well-defined commodity and is becoming less ‘obvious’ in the way that other infrastructure components like network routers are less obvious, even though essential.
The third pillar is platform as a service (PaaS), which currently looks a bit like a lost child. It does not nearly have the growth rate that SaaS does, nor is there a universal acceptance of what it should be like. Attending the IBM InterConnect conference it is interesting to see that IBM is focusing on PaaS as a major component in its battle for the cloud market.
A year ago, when IBM purchased Softlayer to establish itself as a player in the IaaS market, it also committed to the Cloud Foundry open source platform and built its own version called Bluemix. In the last 12 months Bluemix has grown, with a substantial number of services that can be used to compose new applications.
Central to Bluemix is a strong DevOps focus. In fact, DevOps has been the other topic that is popping up in numerous places at the conference. With this offering IBM appears to side step the other big players like Amazon and, to some extent, Microsoft by trying to carve out a position that is sufficiently different. What is clear is that IBM is no longer afraid of open source. To the contrary, it has embraced it quite well.
One case is Docker, a new offering in deployment technology that offers an alternative to virtual machines and which is currently sweeping the industry, with both Amazon and Microsoft offering Docker support. Docker has been built as an automatic component into the Bluexix platform. The catalog offers different Docker images and the user can custom-build his or her own images and register them. The deployment mechanism handles Docker natively so that it is almost a case of point and click to deploy docker builds.
On the Ops side of DevOps, IBM has Service Engage, its own comprehensive service management platform. It is aware of Bluemix as the build & deploy platform, and indeed leverages by offering services in the Bluemix catalog that can be customized, extended and added as additional functions into Service Engage, such as performance monitoring services.
I mentioned that PaaS is a concept that does not yet have universal agreement regarding what it actually should look like. Microsoft has a strong PaaS offering, Heroku is another platform that is well established, and there are a number of other players in differing sizes. IBM is investing large amounts into its vision of PaaS, and will almost certainly be a major contributor to whatever the industry eventually settles on as the definition of what PaaS actually is.