With different challenges emerging every other day, startups nowadays have to innovate and operate rapidly in order to achieve exponential growth in a short period of time. Hence, my friends working in startups always complain about the abuse of 4-letter word “asap”. Every task they receive always come with one requirement: It must be done asap. However, as pointed out in the book Rework by Jason Fried from Basecamp, when everything is expected to be done asap, nothing in fact can be really asap. So, how are startups going to monetize their ideas fast enough?
To answer the question, this year IBM Connect Singapore highlighted two cloud platforms, SoftLayer and Bluemix, which help to assist startups to build and launch their products at speed.
SoftLayer, IaaS from IBM
SoftLayer is a very well-known IaaS cloud service provider from IBM. Currently, SoftLayer has data centres across Asia, Australia, Europe, Brazil, and United States. William Lim, APAC Channel Development Manager at SoftLayer, stated during the event that there will be two new data centres are introduced for every two months on average. In addition, each data centre is connected to the Global Private Network which enable startups to deploy and manage their business applications worldwide.
With Global Private Network, SoftLayer users won’t be charged for any bandwidth usage across the network. Yup, free! Bandwidth between servers on the Global Private Network is unmetered and free. So, with this exciting feature, startups are now able to build true disaster recovery solutuion which requires file transfer from one server to another.
What excites me during the event is the concept of Bare Metal Server. With Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services (AWS), users do not get predictable and consistent performance especially for I/O intensive tasks when their applications are running on virtual-machine based hosting. In order to handle I/O intensive workloads, IBM SoftLayer offers their users a new type of server, Bare Metal Server.
A Bare Metal Server is a physical server which is fully dedicated to one single user. Bare Metal Server can be setup with cutting-edge Intel server-grade processors which can then maximize the server processing power. Hence, for those startups that would like to build Big Data applications, they can make use of Bare Metal Server from SoftLayer to perform data-intensive functions without worrying about latency and overhead delays.
Bluemix, PaaS from IBM
As a user of Microsoft Azure Cloud Service (PaaS), I am very glad to see the Bluemix, PaaS developed by IBM, is also being introduced in the IBM Connect event.
One of the reasons why I prefer PaaS over IaaS is because in a startup environment, developers always have too many todos and too little time. Hence, it is not a good idea to add the burden of managing servers to the developers. Instead, developers should just focus on innovation and development. In the world of PaaS, tons of useful libraries are made available and packaged nicely which allows developers to code, test, and deploy easily without worrying too much about the server configuration, database administration, and load balancing. (You can read about my pain of hosting web applications on Azure IaaS virtual machines here.)
After the IBM Connect event, I decide to try out Bluemix to see how it’s different from Azure Cloud Service.
The registration process is pretty straightforward. I started with the Web Application Template. In Bluemix, there are many programming languages supported, including the latest ASP .NET 5, the new open-source and cross-platform framework from Microsoft team!
I like how Bluemix is integrated with Git. It allows us to create a hosted Git repository that deploys to Bluemix automatically. The entire Git setup process is also very simple with just one click of the “Git” button. So every time after I push my commits to the repository, my app will be automatically updated on the server as well. Cool!
You can click on the button below to try out my simple YouTube related web app deployed on Bluemix.
Bluemix is underlined by three key open compute technologies, i.e. Cloud Foundry, Docker, and OpenStack. What I have played with is just the Cloud Foundry part. In Bluemix, there is also an option to enable developers to deploy virtual machines. However, this option is currently beta and users can only have access to it if they are invited by IBM. Hence, I haven’t tried their VM option.
Finally, Bluemix currently only offers two regions, UK and US South. So for those who would like to have their apps hosted in other parts of the world, it may not be a good time to use Bluemix now.