IBM’s Bluemix – an open cloud platform for the IoT

4th November 2014
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As an interesting example of larger, more established companies taking longer to bring a new product or service to market – IBM is now in the open-source cloud development platform arena with their new Bluemix service.

This is a new next-generation cloud development platform based on IBM’s Open Cloud Architecture and the open-source Cloud Foundry project. Bluemix is a Platform-As-A-Service (PaaS) offering that promises to deliver enterprise-level features and services that are easy to integrate into cloud applications.

As an open-standards-based cloud platform for building, managing, and running apps of all types, Bluemix offers the opportunity to work with the web, mobile, big data, Internet-of-Things applications and smart devices.

Bluemix capabilities include support for Java, mobile back-end development and application monitoring, as well as features from ecosystem partners, all in a cloud-based platform.

This enables organisations and developers to easily create, deploy and manage applications in the cloud, delivering enterprise-level services that can easily integrate with your cloud applications without you needing to know how to install or configure them.



IBM envisioned Bluemix as a system that would answer the needs and challenges facing application developers, their business counterparts and users. For developers, this means a system that significantly reduces the time needed to create and provision the application and allows for flexible capacity in terms of storage as well as delivering flexible capacity for bandwidth and processing.

It handles the back-end infrastructure without requiring the developer to spend time managing it, and allows developers to concentrate on what they do best – developing innovative applications.

For businesses, Bluemix represents a system that allows users to easily create cloud applications without needing a high level of technical knowhow, enabling businesses to rapidly adjust to customer requirements by leveraging the flexibility cloud applications provide – such as instant updates, new features and automatic deployment, empowering and enabling business users to leverage their resources in the most efficient way possible.

Rapid adjustment to changing customer needs and the automatic deployment of new features provides high responsiveness from the customer perspective, and their needs can be addressed very quickly once they make them known. Cloud-based cost savings also reduce the total cost of ownership.

With projections of billions of new Internet-of-Things devices being sold and connected over coming years, with corresponding growth in the amount of network traffic they generate, there have been a number of new technologies emerging that help developers connect and use the data coming from these devices.

One interesting example is MQTT, the Message Queue Telemetry Transport protocol. MQTT is a connectivity protocol specifically designed for machine-to-machine and Internet-of-Things applications, as a very lightweight publish/subscribe messaging transport.

In response to projections for the IoT and the rapidly growing numbers of connected devices, IBM has developed an Internet of Things Cloud – which at the core is based around an MQTT instance. The IBM IoT cloud is currently in beta but is quite functional and you can use it to develop or experiment with publishing and retrieving data from your connected Internet-of-Things devices.

Once you have a device connected to the IBM Internet-of-Things Cloud you can build an app around the data coming from that device, and this is where Bluemix comes in. Using a combination of the IBM IoT Cloud and IBM Bluemix you can have a complete cloud-based based solution for your IoT applications, and Bluemix already has a service that is part of its catalogue to connect to the IBM IoT Cloud.

In addition to the service, Bluemix has a boilerplate for IoT applications which stands up a Node-RED instance allowing you to design data flows for your application. For example you can use Bluemix along with the IoT cloud to build Internet-of-Things applications based on data coming in from a hardware device such as a Texas Instruments Sensor Tag.

You can use Node-RED, running on top of Bluemix and the IoT Cloud, to collect sensor data over the tag’s wireless Bluetooth Low Energy interface, store it in a MongoDB database and create a REST API exposing the data, without writing any code yourself.

Included with IBM’s IoT Cloud there are a number of “recipes”, which are basically example IoT scenarios that can get you up and running quickly with common applications. The recipes contain instructions on how to set up the hardware as well as provide you with the code needed to connect the device to the IoT Cloud and publish data. What makes using these recipes even easier is the quickstart service that is part of the IoT Cloud.

When using the quickstart service you don’t have to create an account or register any devices, you just run the code given to you in the recipe, head to the quickstart page, enter the MAC address of the device and you can see the device data being published to the IoT Cloud.

To get an IoT device and demonstration application up and running quickly it couldn’t be easier. For example, a combined Beaglebone Black and TI Sensor Tag application is one of the recipes provided, supporting the TI Sensor Tag which has a number of sensors on it you can use for many different and interesting use cases, connected to a Beaglebone Black which removes the need for a power-hungry local PC running all the time.

All the hardware needed, the Sensor Tag, the Beaglebone Black, and a Bluetooth LE USB adapter, costs less than 100 dollars, and once you’ve got the hardware you can quickly follow the documentation provided to start publishing data from sensors to the cloud using a combination of Bluemix, IBM IoT Cloud and NodeRED.

IBM Bluemix 2

 Although not the first in the market, IBM’s offering is powerful and scalable – and could be the solution to your IoT product requirements. Here at the LX Group, our experienced award-winning engineering team can harness Bluemix for your success.

 Getting started is easy – join us for an obligation-free and confidential discussion about your ideas and how we can help bring them to life – click here to contact us, or telephone 1800 810 124.

LX is an award-winning electronics design company based in Sydney, Australia. LX services include full turnkey design, electronics, hardware, software and firmware design. LX specialises in embedded systems and wireless technologies design.

Published by LX Pty Ltd for itself and the LX Group of companies, including LX Design House, LX Solutions and LX Consulting, LX Innovations.

 

LX GroupIBM’s Bluemix – an open cloud platform for the IoT

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