So over the last six months I've been spending a lot of time with IBM's new SaaS (or PaaS depending on how you use it) called BlueMix. I've created several sample applications with it and even though its far from perfect, I believe its one of the most compelling technologies to come out of IBM in a very long time. Here are just a few thoughts from the front lines.
First, I love the way application servers like WebSphere Liberty and Node.js are integrated into BlueMix. Its so easy to deploy applications and modules to both of these run times, especially when using tools like the BlueMix eclipse plugin. I will say that I did hit a few issues when trying to deploy not only an application but a modified WebSphere Liberty server.xml and had to switch to using the cloud foundry command line tool but that was a minor inconvenience.
Second, the set of available BlueMix services is unreal. All the ones you would expect are here like MQ and MongoDB (which is actually a third party service) but beyond that are all kinds of services ranging from a huge assortment of analytic tools (from the Watson technology suite) to Single Sign On tools that support oAuth (using Google+, LinkedIn or Facebook) and everything in between. Do yourself a favor and at least browse the BlueMix catalog before making a decision on which SaaS platform you plan to use.
I've personally built applications using WebSphere Liberty, Node.js, MongoDB, the SSO service and a BlueMix VM running an unreleased version of the WebSphere Liberty rtcomm-1.0 feature. All have worked really well and the service itself has been very reliable for me.
Like any new platform I did run into hickups along the way. For instance, I had a little trouble getting oAuth working with Facebook using the new SSO service and some of the Eclipse tooling still has some issues but the BlueMix support team was very responsive and helpful and I managed to find simple workarounds to most of the issues I ran into.
Having the ability to build an application and have it running live on the internet in days or weeks is a beautiful thing. I use BlueMix for demos on almost a daily basis these days and I plan on using it for many years to come. The amount of technology that BlueMix puts at the fingertips of the average developer is just staggering. We're talking thousands of person years worth of technology. I heard IBM Fellow Gerry Cuomo recently say that its an amazing time to be a developer. I couldn't agree more!