Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Bluemix for real business

Last week at IBM Business Connect I talked about Bluemix accelerating to market. This week I made it reality.

Usually I don't talk about customer projects here, and usually I don't implement software in customer projects by myself either. So this is a double exception.

Recently we started a new project where my company is supposed to deliver an IoT solution for a retail domain, another vendor provides ERP system, and we do integration together. So this is a multi-vendor case. All the vendors - 4 in total - are separate legal entities having separate premises and information infrastructure.

Traditional way of co-development would cause need to cross-install software components into each others development environment, an/or creating VPN-connections or other holes to firewalls and stuff. This time I decided to make it differently: for the duration of development, I created the integration point in Bluemix.

Node-RED screenshot as illustration. Picture taken from web site.

There are clear benefits we gained immediately at the beginning of the project:

Rapid development
First of all, thanks to PaaS, the base system with selected components was up and running just in minutes. I decided to use Node-RED to implement my part of the integration. Node-RED is semi-graphical programming language built a top of Node.JS. Roughly within an our from beginning, I had the first application specific functionality implemented and in service.

Shared access
All parties involved in the development have access to the cloud, no-one needs to compromise corporate security by implementing any changes in the existing IT configurations. Connections are encrypted by TLS/SSL, which makes it secure enough especially as no real business data is involved in the system during development time.

Instant deployment
As this is a R&D project for a new innovation, no readily available specifications exists. Documentation is written parallel to the development, in agile manner. Changes occur multiple times per day, and it's crucial to deploy them fast. With Node-RED, the development actually occurs in Bluemix with web user interfaces. Performing deployment only requires single click of Deploy-button, and changes are in production (in developer zone) in a second.

Fail fast
As said, no specs exists a priori. Some ideas are good, some others not so much. The three things mentioned above make it easy to test new ideas quickly - and fail fast. Already during the very first day of joint development, we found some basic assumptions wrong, and changed some design fundamentals immediately. Without all help of this, it would may have taken weeks to recognize the root problem. Think of all the wasted effort by re-writing the code then!

I'm not an operator. I can install a Linux desktop by myself, but installing a production server with high security and SLA sounds like a nightmare. With help of Bluemix PaaS, I do not need to care about the platform. I only need to focus on my own code which brings the added value to the customer.

It's not just hype, the benefits are evident, and experienced in real-life commercial business. Someone is paying for all that, and I believe the one is happy for the benefits gained in terms of savings in time to market and development costs.

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