IT tends to think of cloud computing as either multi-tenant, shared infrastructure, or public cloud. IBM wants to provide clearer definition of private infrastructure, with powerful servers occupied by a single tenant, unshared and devoted to development.
Dedicated Bluemix is IBM's development platform with host servers in the cloud dedicated to a single customer. That way, development may proceed and deal with sensitive data while maintaining strict data sovereignty and compliance policies.
In Bluemix, IBM brings together a wide variety of IBM and open-source tools to create an online environment for enterprise developers. Bluemix is an IBM-specific implementation of the Cloud Foundry platform-as-a-service coming out of Pivotal, a VMware spinoff. It runs on top of IBM's SoftLayer cloud.
This private PaaS isn't meant to operate in isolation from the public cloud. While using its own servers connected by VPN networks and surrounded by extra security, it still contains a bridge to the public side of the SoftLayer cloud. "We have built in the capacity to deliver updates to the public cloud," giving Bluemix a potentially greater role in DevOps, where developers wish to see their code move into production more quickly, said Steve Robinson, general manager of IBM Cloud Platform Services.
[Want to learn about another move by IBM to broaden its developer appeal? See IBM, Microsoft Cloud Partnership Examined.]
Cloud-based development has an inherent advantage in that code can be developed and deployed in the same environment. In most on-premises cases, development occurs in one environment, deployment in another. One goal of Dedicated Bluemix is to ease the movement of development from on-premises into the cloud by offering a more isolated and auditable environment.
Once corporate data can be used in the cloud, however, a secure update bridge into the public cloud means Bluemix is available for feeding fresh and tested code into production, if everything works as advertised. That allows developers to mesh their work more closely with IT operations. IBM is seeking to make DevOps methods more accessible to its customers, Robinson said in an interview.
DevOps has been a favorite mode of operation for startups and web companies that seek to change their production software frequently. Facebook and Amazon.com are noted for their ability to push dozens or hundreds of software updates a day. Robinson said competitive enterprises are beginning to adopt the same process.
Among other things, Dedicated Bluemix will make available a Cloudant high-performance database-as-a-service; a data-caching service to make Bluemix applications speedier and more responsive; and the runtime environments in different languages so developers may launch applications in the language of their choice, Robinson said.
In addition, Dedicated Bluemix will add the following DevOps features:
- A collaborative environment in which development teams can work together and track the progress of their project.
- Testing for mainframe applications in the cloud, something that's been hard to find in plain vanilla, x86-based cloud hosted by other providers. The capability will come from the Rational Development and Test package.
- The IBM UrbanCode Deploy option, which offers a rapid design, develop, and deploy approach to hybrid cloud computing, including mainframe deployments.
- The ability to monitor the user experience on mobile apps with IBM's MobileFirst Quality Assurance services. Analytics provided by the service can be used to drive the next round of mobile app development.
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