Bluemix: A Viable Option for Power Customers

Analysis of News Events
  • Smaller Small Medium Big Bigger
  • Default Helvetica Segoe Georgia Times

Just what is Bluemix, and what could it mean for you? An interview with an IBMer reveals the answers.


Last week, I sat down with Adam Gunther, Director of Cloud Developers Services at IBM, to talk about IBM Bluemix. I told Adam I wasn’t a developer up front, but I wanted him to explain just exactly how my small-to-medium-sized business with an investment in on-premises infrastructure could really take advantage of Bluemix. I wasn’t disappointed.

Steve Pitcher: Give me an idea about Bluemix. Where did it come from, and what can it do for me?

Adam Gunther, IBM: I think we’re looking at technology problems through a unique lens. The catalyst around this was the renaissance of IBM design thinking. IBM has a long heritage in design thinking, going back to Thomas Watson. Connecting to people and problems and using technology as a means to help customers solve problems and move their businesses forward. Over time, we lost our way a little bit, or a little bit of that focus, and picked up a reputation as building solutions that were a bit “complex.” I mean, great technology and we solved great problems, but getting started with the technology was a challenge. There was a learning curve that went along with it.

It’s been about reconnecting with the idea of design and helping how we build software with solving customer problems. Bluemix was from the onset...we put this methodology up front. What’s really cool about Design 101 is always experiment. If you go into a room and ask people to “design me a vase,” you’ll get many variations of a vase. If you say, “Now design me a better experience for displaying flowers in the home,” you’re going to get something different and innovative. That’s where you get different ideas. Maybe I’d draw a TV with flowers coming out of receptacles on the sides of it. It’s kind of a dumb idea. I like to watch television, and my wife likes flowers. Maybe if I married the two, it’s a better way of displaying flowers and I get to watch more TV. You could debate the merits of it as an idea you could sell, but it’s innovative, and you can’t argue against that.

With regards to Bluemix, we asked ourselves, “What are we really trying to solve for customers?” If you think about it, it’s about innovation. Our customers, in particular the enterprise, are trying to respond to every start-up around the globe that is nipping at their heels and trying to out-innovate them. How do we help developers, whether in the enterprise or the small company, innovate faster to make their business work? Innovation at the end of the day starts with an idea. A developer sits down and he or she thinks of something uniquely interesting. That’s step one. The next step is they need to be able to share that idea with others and iterate together to figure out if the idea is any good. As they progress, they need to turn that idea into a real production application on a global scale. With Bluemix, we kept that as our core vision. Helping drive innovation. We describe Bluemix as an innovation platform.

I think that’s important. If you look at other cloud platforms, they’re trying to solve technology problems. Technology problems are interesting. Business problems are what we’re trying to solve, and technology is the tool we use to solve it.

I’ll talk about Bluemix in three dimensions.

One is the technology we bring to the developer. We bring a choice with consistency. Developers need different tools for different jobs, depending on the problem that they’re solving. They want a consistent experience.

The second is around hybrid and global operation, global scale, and security. We have start-ups that have been great references. Bluemix works for them. We’ve heard small companies say that they like some IBM tools, but can’t buy IBM because they’re too small. They don’t have the time to deploy and operate the software. With Bluemix, we bring a cloud consumption model. Pay for what you consume. As you start to grow, you get to use more. You don’t have to operate it, maintain it, upgrade it. That’s IBM’s problem. The barriers of entry are removed from IBM. We hear that in spades with the start-ups. The enterprise gets global scale from day one. They need security. They need connections back into the mainframe. We have a big investment in building the cloud for large customers, too.

The third is the services portfolio itself, from Watson to the Internet of Things. We have a unique set of tools that developers can [use to] create new and interesting things. That combined with the integration back to the mainframe is what helps them get an edge. That back end system…I don’t like to call it “legacy.” I think that’s a connotation of not being good. There’s a lot of value in those systems that I call “heritage.”

SP: Colin Parris, former VP of Power Systems, had a great quote about the word legacy: “Legacy just means proven.” It’s a great line.

AG: That’s where most companies’ value is. That’s where the data is. All that comes together with Bluemix.

Let me circle back to Bluemix evolution again. We started Bluemix with Cloud Foundry. We picked Cloud Foundry because of our commitment to open communities. It’s huge. We don’t develop code on an island. We work with Cloud Foundry, Docker, OpenStack, Spark. Open spawns innovation. It unites developers around the world and helps us all forward faster. That’s exciting. If I’m a developer and I’m using Cloud Foundry, I’m a couple keystrokes away from a world of developers to help me build on ideas and innovate some cool things.

We started it on the public cloud, not the datacenter. For us, we want people in the cloud and connecting to the datacenter. We had a lot of great success from day one.

SP: Tell me a little about adoption. Forgive me, but I’m trying to pick my spots to jump in here because you’re just firing off great information. I know IBM doesn’t historically give out a lot of numbers regarding customers, but I’m wondering what you can share. What’s the demographics look like? Enterprises vs. mom-and-pop shops or start-ups?

AG: I’ll answer that in two parts; then I’ll jump back into the evolution. The next pivot we made and why. It’s key for unlocking the cloud for the enterprise.

SP: Shoot.

AG: Some statistics we can share...we have the world’s largest Cloud Foundry deployment. More than 120 API services for users in 179 countries. We’re onboarding 15,000 new users each week into the platform. That’s big. We have 120,000 applications being launched every month. We really had lofty goals and eclipsed them. It’s been a really fun ride to watch it go from whiteboards to what it is today.

Back to where I started, from idea to reality, and we started doing some customer surveys. What problems are we not helping you with? We heard a couple of common themes. Number one was something like “Cloud Foundry is great to build a new application, but it forces me to use new application development principles to make it work. I have a lot of applications around for a long time on a Power box, and I want to move it to the cloud, and we want your help in doing that.” We also heard over and over again, “We’re going to the cloud, and it will be an evolution over time. I have to build a cloud myself or hire someone to do it for me.”

What we did very quickly is expanded the aperture. We solved these problems for our customers. We brought in IBM Containers, which is powered by Docker. It gives them more control over what they do. We brought in virtual machines with OpenStack. We introduced an event-driven programming model called Bluemix OpenWhisk, which is the world’s fully open, event-driven programming model. Other vendors have gone the proprietary route, and we’ve gone open. Around hybrid, we took a cool approach. Bluemix comes in three flavors. Public, dedicated, and local. Local is unique in the industry. Public is where we started, and it’s lowest price because it’s a shared environment. We offer dedicated Bluemix, where a customer wants to be in the cloud but isn’t comfortable in a shared environment. They get their own copy of Bluemix, where we run in any of our datacenters around the world on SoftLayer. They get the same Bluemix environment, but it’s isolated for their company. A lot of the regulated areas are more comfortable in that environment. Then there’s local. Now local is very cool in that we run Bluemix on your hardware in your datacenter. We can run it just like another cloud node. The benefit to the customer is that we can provide them with a borderless cloud experience. To the developer, to the operator, it’s a single management plane. If I want to move a workload from Bluemix local to the cloud, it’s easy. Because we operate it like a cloud, we have a SLA, and we keep it up to date for you. You get all the patches, all the updates, and the same SLA as in the cloud. What’s really cool is that it enables the workloads to be portable because all Bluemix is in sync. You can run it in your data center today and move it to the cloud tomorrow. Over time, you can evolve with the platform and move workloads around. That’s attracting customers in the enterprise and helping futureproof their investment.

SP: I like the idea of running development in the cloud and running production in-house. But you can do vice versa or any variation.

AG: The hybrid capabilities are great. A bank we’re working with wants to build a mobile application. When customers come into their bank, through the mobile app the customers can give feedback. They want the customer service associates to respond to that. They wanted to put it in the cloud, but certain information just couldn’t go to the cloud because they weren’t comfortable with that. I think it was a DB2 application running on Power Systems. Using a combination of integration technology, their sensitive data stayed private on Bluemix local, and they also used Bluemix public because they wanted to use some of the Watson services to analyze the feedback. They wanted to build the mobile back end in the cloud as well. They saved money doing the non-confidential work in the cloud. Now a user goes into the bank, waits in line, and gives feedback on the app that the lines were too long. Watson identifies the customer had a negative experience based on the sentiment of the words. It goes back to Bluemix local. They do a lookup on the Power Systems machine regarding the customer account and find he’s a very big spender. It flags the customer service system to give the customer some loyalty points as a good gesture and then sends the customer a notification before he’s even out the door. That’s taking advantage of Watson and cognitive and analytics. It cross-references the systems of record and provides better customer service back.

It’s this kind of things we’re doing with Bluemix that lets customers do very innovative things.

Steve Pitcher
Steve Pitcher works with iTech Solutions, an IBM Premier Business Partner. He is a specialist in IBM i and IBM Power Systems solutions since 2001. Feel free to contact him directly


Support MC Press Online





  • White Paper: Node.js for Enterprise IBM i Modernization

    SB Profound WP 5539

    If your business is thinking about modernizing your legacy IBM i (also known as AS/400 or iSeries) applications, you will want to read this white paper first!

    Download this paper and learn how Node.js can ensure that you:
    - Modernize on-time and budget - no more lengthy, costly, disruptive app rewrites!
    - Retain your IBM i systems of record
    - Find and hire new development talent
    - Integrate new Node.js applications with your existing RPG, Java, .Net, and PHP apps
    - Extend your IBM i capabilties to include Watson API, Cloud, and Internet of Things

    Read Node.js for Enterprise IBM i Modernization Now!


  • Profound Logic Solution Guide

    SB Profound WP 5539More than ever, there is a demand for IT to deliver innovation.
    Your IBM i has been an essential part of your business operations for years. However, your organization may struggle to maintain the current system and implement new projects.
    The thousands of customers we've worked with and surveyed state that expectations regarding the digital footprint and vision of the companyare not aligned with the current IT environment.

    Get your copy of this important guide today!


  • 2022 IBM i Marketplace Survey Results

    Fortra2022 marks the eighth edition of the IBM i Marketplace Survey Results. Each year, Fortra captures data on how businesses use the IBM i platform and the IT and cybersecurity initiatives it supports.

    Over the years, this survey has become a true industry benchmark, revealing to readers the trends that are shaping and driving the market and providing insight into what the future may bring for this technology.

  • Brunswick bowls a perfect 300 with LANSA!

    FortraBrunswick is the leader in bowling products, services, and industry expertise for the development and renovation of new and existing bowling centers and mixed-use recreation facilities across the entertainment industry. However, the lifeblood of Brunswick’s capital equipment business was running on a 15-year-old software application written in Visual Basic 6 (VB6) with a SQL Server back-end. The application was at the end of its life and needed to be replaced.
    With the help of Visual LANSA, they found an easy-to-use, long-term platform that enabled their team to collaborate, innovate, and integrate with existing systems and databases within a single platform.
    Read the case study to learn how they achieved success and increased the speed of development by 30% with Visual LANSA.


  • The Power of Coding in a Low-Code Solution

    LANSAWhen it comes to creating your business applications, there are hundreds of coding platforms and programming languages to choose from. These options range from very complex traditional programming languages to Low-Code platforms where sometimes no traditional coding experience is needed.
    Download our whitepaper, The Power of Writing Code in a Low-Code Solution, and:

    • Discover the benefits of Low-code's quick application creation
    • Understand the differences in model-based and language-based Low-Code platforms
    • Explore the strengths of LANSA's Low-Code Solution to Low-Code’s biggest drawbacks



  • Why Migrate When You Can Modernize?

    LANSABusiness users want new applications now. Market and regulatory pressures require faster application updates and delivery into production. Your IBM i developers may be approaching retirement, and you see no sure way to fill their positions with experienced developers. In addition, you may be caught between maintaining your existing applications and the uncertainty of moving to something new.
    In this white paper, you’ll learn how to think of these issues as opportunities rather than problems. We’ll explore motivations to migrate or modernize, their risks and considerations you should be aware of before embarking on a (migration or modernization) project.
    Lastly, we’ll discuss how modernizing IBM i applications with optimized business workflows, integration with other technologies and new mobile and web user interfaces will enable IT – and the business – to experience time-added value and much more.


  • UPDATED: Developer Kit: Making a Business Case for Modernization and Beyond

    Profound Logic Software, Inc.Having trouble getting management approval for modernization projects? The problem may be you're not speaking enough "business" to them.

    This Developer Kit provides you study-backed data and a ready-to-use business case template to help get your very next development project approved!

  • What to Do When Your AS/400 Talent Retires

    FortraIT managers hoping to find new IBM i talent are discovering that the pool of experienced RPG programmers and operators or administrators is small.

    This guide offers strategies and software suggestions to help you plan IT staffing and resources and smooth the transition after your AS/400 talent retires. Read on to learn:

    • Why IBM i skills depletion is a top concern
    • How leading organizations are coping
    • Where automation will make the biggest impact


  • Node.js on IBM i Webinar Series Pt. 2: Setting Up Your Development Tools

    Profound Logic Software, Inc.Have you been wondering about Node.js? Our free Node.js Webinar Series takes you from total beginner to creating a fully-functional IBM i Node.js business application. In Part 2, Brian May teaches you the different tooling options available for writing code, debugging, and using Git for version control. Attend this webinar to learn:

    • Different tools to develop Node.js applications on IBM i
    • Debugging Node.js
    • The basics of Git and tools to help those new to it
    • Using as a pre-built development environment



  • Expert Tips for IBM i Security: Beyond the Basics

    SB PowerTech WC GenericIn this session, IBM i security expert Robin Tatam provides a quick recap of IBM i security basics and guides you through some advanced cybersecurity techniques that can help you take data protection to the next level. Robin will cover:

    • Reducing the risk posed by special authorities
    • Establishing object-level security
    • Overseeing user actions and data access

    Don't miss this chance to take your knowledge of IBM i security beyond the basics.



  • 5 IBM i Security Quick Wins

    SB PowerTech WC GenericIn today’s threat landscape, upper management is laser-focused on cybersecurity. You need to make progress in securing your systems—and make it fast.
    There’s no shortage of actions you could take, but what tactics will actually deliver the results you need? And how can you find a security strategy that fits your budget and time constraints?
    Join top IBM i security expert Robin Tatam as he outlines the five fastest and most impactful changes you can make to strengthen IBM i security this year.
    Your system didn’t become unsecure overnight and you won’t be able to turn it around overnight either. But quick wins are possible with IBM i security, and Robin Tatam will show you how to achieve them.

  • Security Bulletin: Malware Infection Discovered on IBM i Server!

    SB PowerTech WC GenericMalicious programs can bring entire businesses to their knees—and IBM i shops are not immune. It’s critical to grasp the true impact malware can have on IBM i and the network that connects to it. Attend this webinar to gain a thorough understanding of the relationships between:

    • Viruses, native objects, and the integrated file system (IFS)
    • Power Systems and Windows-based viruses and malware
    • PC-based anti-virus scanning versus native IBM i scanning

    There are a number of ways you can minimize your exposure to viruses. IBM i security expert Sandi Moore explains the facts, including how to ensure you're fully protected and compliant with regulations such as PCI.



  • Encryption on IBM i Simplified

    SB PowerTech WC GenericDB2 Field Procedures (FieldProcs) were introduced in IBM i 7.1 and have greatly simplified encryption, often without requiring any application changes. Now you can quickly encrypt sensitive data on the IBM i including PII, PCI, PHI data in your physical files and tables.
    Watch this webinar to learn how you can quickly implement encryption on the IBM i. During the webinar, security expert Robin Tatam will show you how to:

    • Use Field Procedures to automate encryption and decryption
    • Restrict and mask field level access by user or group
    • Meet compliance requirements with effective key management and audit trails


  • Lessons Learned from IBM i Cyber Attacks

    SB PowerTech WC GenericDespite the many options IBM has provided to protect your systems and data, many organizations still struggle to apply appropriate security controls.
    In this webinar, you'll get insight into how the criminals accessed these systems, the fallout from these attacks, and how the incidents could have been avoided by following security best practices.

    • Learn which security gaps cyber criminals love most
    • Find out how other IBM i organizations have fallen victim
    • Get the details on policies and processes you can implement to protect your organization, even when staff works from home

    You will learn the steps you can take to avoid the mistakes made in these examples, as well as other inadequate and misconfigured settings that put businesses at risk.



  • The Power of Coding in a Low-Code Solution

    SB PowerTech WC GenericWhen it comes to creating your business applications, there are hundreds of coding platforms and programming languages to choose from. These options range from very complex traditional programming languages to Low-Code platforms where sometimes no traditional coding experience is needed.
    Download our whitepaper, The Power of Writing Code in a Low-Code Solution, and:

    • Discover the benefits of Low-code's quick application creation
    • Understand the differences in model-based and language-based Low-Code platforms
    • Explore the strengths of LANSA's Low-Code Solution to Low-Code’s biggest drawbacks



  • The Biggest Mistakes in IBM i Security

    SB Profound WC Generic The Biggest Mistakes in IBM i Security
    Here’s the harsh reality: cybersecurity pros have to get their jobs right every single day, while an attacker only has to succeed once to do incredible damage.
    Whether that’s thousands of exposed records, millions of dollars in fines and legal fees, or diminished share value, it’s easy to judge organizations that fall victim. IBM i enjoys an enviable reputation for security, but no system is impervious to mistakes.
    Join this webinar to learn about the biggest errors made when securing a Power Systems server.
    This knowledge is critical for ensuring integrity of your application data and preventing you from becoming the next Equifax. It’s also essential for complying with all formal regulations, including SOX, PCI, GDPR, and HIPAA
    Watch Now.

  • Comply in 5! Well, actually UNDER 5 minutes!!

    SB CYBRA PPL 5382

    TRY the one package that solves all your document design and printing challenges on all your platforms.

    Produce bar code labels, electronic forms, ad hoc reports, and RFID tags – without programming! MarkMagic is the only document design and print solution that combines report writing, WYSIWYG label and forms design, and conditional printing in one integrated product.

    Request your trial now!

  • Backup and Recovery on IBM i: Your Strategy for the Unexpected

    FortraRobot automates the routine tasks of iSeries backup and recovery, saving you time and money and making the process safer and more reliable. Automate your backups with the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution. Key features include:
    - Simplified backup procedures
    - Easy data encryption
    - Save media management
    - Guided restoration
    - Seamless product integration
    Make sure your data survives when catastrophe hits. Try the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Manage IBM i Messages by Exception with Robot

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413Managing messages on your IBM i can be more than a full-time job if you have to do it manually. How can you be sure you won’t miss important system events?
    Automate your message center with the Robot Message Management Solution. Key features include:
    - Automated message management
    - Tailored notifications and automatic escalation
    - System-wide control of your IBM i partitions
    - Two-way system notifications from your mobile device
    - Seamless product integration
    Try the Robot Message Management Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Easiest Way to Save Money? Stop Printing IBM i Reports

    FortraRobot automates report bursting, distribution, bundling, and archiving, and offers secure, selective online report viewing.
    Manage your reports with the Robot Report Management Solution. Key features include:

    - Automated report distribution
    - View online without delay
    - Browser interface to make notes
    - Custom retention capabilities
    - Seamless product integration
    Rerun another report? Never again. Try the Robot Report Management Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Hassle-Free IBM i Operations around the Clock

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413For over 30 years, Robot has been a leader in systems management for IBM i.
    Manage your job schedule with the Robot Job Scheduling Solution. Key features include:
    - Automated batch, interactive, and cross-platform scheduling
    - Event-driven dependency processing
    - Centralized monitoring and reporting
    - Audit log and ready-to-use reports
    - Seamless product integration
    Scale your software, not your staff. Try the Robot Job Scheduling Solution FREE for 30 days.