How to build your business application with IBM Bluemix

IBM headquarters
IBM headquarters

Is your organization ready to build or upgrade its mobile applications? Are you one of the brave developers charged with overseeing this daunting task?

As you're probably aware, there is an abundance of services and tools at your fingertips, designed to help you create, manage and host your business' next application. With everything from virtual machine creation to data analytics to Internet of Things APIs at your grasp, there is little your mobile application won't be able to accomplish.

However, it's up to you to decide how you want to begin this journey. Choosing the right partnership and the right platform will influence every step of development for the rest of this process. Choose wisely.

Leading the PaaS-powered pack is IBM's Bluemix, your open cloud platform solution for building, running, and managing web and/or mobile applications. Built on Cloud Foundry open source technology, and sporting pre-built Mobile Backend-as-a-Service (MBaaS) functionality, as well as a variety of cloud deployments that you can choose, Bluemix handles the multilayered work of app execution, integration, maintenance and scalability. When you sign up for a trial and begin using Bluemix you don't need to build an infrastructure because Bluemix already has one. Bluemix runs on SoftLayer's hardware and network — and you can pick whether to run your code through Cloud Foundry, IBM Containers or virtual machines.

Step-by-step up to the cloud

Once you sign up, create an app, and deploy it to Bluemix, the system determines the right virtual machine (VM) for the app. Once that's sorted out, the app can be deployed into that framework. Then Bluemix's services and boilerplates come into play. The service is a cloud extension providing functionality that is ready-to-use by the app's running code. The boilerplate contains an app and its associated runtime environment and predefined services for a given domain.

You can choose from a suite of boilerplates. This will help you get up and running. Bluemix's Java DB web starter kit is a popular choice as it allows users to execute and scale Java apps with ease and finesse.

In luxury — and control

You may ask, "Do I really want to hand so much control over my own app to IBM?" But consider that this question doesn't actually come into play here, because you, the business, remain steadfastly in control. Think of yourself as the driver of the app experience, while Bluemix is the mechanic, the gasoline, and even, to an extent, the road. You choose where your apps, data and other services live and you have the ability to access various data options ranging from predictive analytics, to big data. Also, you can integrate the app in question with other apps and systems. As for the programming language, Bluemix is fluent in just about every technological tongue including Ruby, PHP, Java, Go and Python.

All on board

A growing list of businesses have been converted into Bluemix loyalists, and these aren't just large enterprises, as the time-tested IBM name may suggest. SMBs and start-ups are also singing Bluemix's praises. One of the standout reasons Bluemix is so attractive is because it's so ridiculously easy to use; set-up is quick and all you have to bring to the table is the application itself. Another appeal to younger and/or smaller companies is that you can create your own services in Bluemix, and they can vary in complexity — from basic utilities to complex business logic.

Start building

Bluemix is its own ecosystem within the expansive universe of IBM, so you can seamlessly adopt external IBM cloud-friendly services like IBM Watson Analytics, a smart data discovery platform that navigates data exploration, automates predictive analytics, and enables the creation of dashboard and infographics. Using Watson within Bluemix, You can layer yourapp with a cognitive understanding so that the more data you feed your app, the more intelligent it becomes.

And there's plenty more tools where that one came from — there's also MongoDB, a JSON document database aimed at startups and enterprises; Elasticsearch, ac combination of a full-text search engine with the indexing powers of a JSON document database; Redis, a lightning-fast key/value store that keeps your dataset in RAM and handles persisting to disk in the background; PostgreSQL, an open source object-relational, customizable database, and more.

It's a lot to take in, but Bluemix is so efficient that when you sign up and start building you won't really need to worry about the details. That said, all the information you could ever need is laid out transparently by IBM, who've succeeded in creating a platform that is ideal for both the cloud-familiar business, and the business that is new to cloud computing but ready to get serious about it — fast.