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InfoQ Homepage Interviews IBM, Developers, Containers, Cloud and Community

IBM, Developers, Containers, Cloud and Community


1. Hello and welcome InfoQ audience. With me, I have Dr. Angel Diaz. He is the IBM VP of Cloud Architecture and Technology. So, thanks for doing this Angel and welcome to InfoQ. So let me start off with the first question which is IBM Bluemix. It’s turning about a year now, right? And it’s kind of the centerpiece of IBM’s Cloud based projects. So can you talk to me about Bluemix and the how the architects should pay attention to it or should they even pay attention to it?

Yes, well I think a good way to talk about Bluemix is to think about this IT renaissance that we’re living in, right? It is the business transformation this digital disruption that’s occurring is being driven by developers which is awfully empowering. With great power comes awesome responsibility. When you build the applications you need to build the applications faster. You need to be able to connect two systems of record. You need to be able to have capabilities to deploy your applications on premise, behind your four walls. Off premise, public cloud and of course this connected tissue we call hybrid. Bluemix is our Platform As A service, we’re getting over 8,000 new developers signing up, using Bluemix a week.

It is extremely popular. It is built on technologies like Cloud Foundry, Docker, and OpenStack. It is available on premise off premise. It allows this true Cloud on the left and right hand side of equation. But it also does more than that because it allows you to create applications at the speed you want because of the programming models that we have. The different run times, I think of it as the brushes inside the canvas and the artistry developers used to build. You have a selection of IBM Technology likeWebSphere, like Watson, Cloudant for NoSQL. You can bring an open source technology and you can connect across ones. Our objective is to give developers the ability to make all these clouds behave as one.

The partnerships we’ve got with Twitter with Weather Channel, Facebook, with Apple, all of that is exposed and the power is given to the developer to do what they need to do. And that’s build the Unicorn and change the Unicorn. People talk about failing fast. I don’t like failing hash tag failisbad. You know what I like to do? I like to pivot fast and that’s what you’re going to do with BlueMix.

Rags: Perfect. One of your job responsibilities is standards and obviously the most successful standard I can think of is the World Wide Web, right?

Oh, yes.


2. The World Wide Web Consortium W3C was responsible for spearheading it, but it seems like you have an implementation and then kind of the standards evolve around it right? It kind of seems backwards to me but is that the way standards are going to be done going forward in the industry? You have some insight on that?

Yeah it’s interesting. I worked on the original HTML Specifications. I co-authored CSS, DOM and I was co-chair at the first XML standard, Mathematical Markup Language, which I worked with Tim Berners Lee, everyone. So I was in there, and I could tell you we actually were writing code, as we are writing specification. When we came out with the XML specification, with Jon Boasak right? We delivered it in IBM and a Java implementation and a C++ implementation of an XML parser at the very same time. So this notion of code and specification working is not new. What is new is the way it’s done. Back then it was a smaller group of us. Academics, industry folks, trying to solve interesting problems. The web is born to disseminate physics information. Great use case especially for education and scientist. Not exactly the best use case for how we ended up using some of this technology.

What’s different now is that, these open source ecosystems that are building standards is focused on code, community and culture. Bring together not just developers, scientists, industry vendors, but more importantly it brings together the end user. So you saw we all know the explosion had occurred because of the web. I mean our handheld devices rely on that infrastructure. Imagine the explosions occuring with Cloud, data analytics, mobile, and this IOT things when you have end users helping us do the right thing up front.


3. [...] Basically it starts at smaller companies and then kind of bigger companies get behind those kind of innovations?

Rags full question: That leads me to the next question which is innovation. If you see the innovation today especially around Docker, Docker, Docker everybody is talking about containers these days. You look at Cloud and distributed systems, docker, Mesos, Kubernetes with maybe a few exceptions here and there, kind of originated in smaller companies and bigger companies kind of got around that. Is this how, innovation is kind of morphed? Basically it starts at smaller companies and then kind of bigger companies get behind those kind of innovations?

The model is very similar back again to your point about the days of the web. IBM help create the Apache Foundation. We wrote the Apache License. We created Eclipse with our partners. And here we now in Cloud, when you look at Cloud we made a decision. Literally five years ago. To make sure that our Cloud Infrastructure is open by design. So what does that mean, we want to create linchpins centers of gravity where you are assured interoperability. The web works because every body's Apache HTTP code is the same implementation. Our goal is for all these clouds to behave like one. We all have OpenStack, today to deal with compute storage and network. We have Docker to do with micro services containerized applications that can span and scale at enterprise. You’ve got Cloud Foundry for those who want to build polyglot applications.

All of these pieces, even APIs or how you interact with Glass, open source with HTML5, for example, this entire thing that makes the application based on Cloud needs to be open by design. Our cloud is based on an open source technologies. We’ve always innovated in the open. Sometimes IBM initiates things. Sometimes we join and participate, but that just kind of how the road goes. What’s great about this is, when you look at what’s happen to Cloud, we have been a major contributor and major instigator of these things. IBM help start the OpenStack foundation with the six of us who did that. The Cloud Foundry was one of the original eight who started Cloud Foundry. NodeJS that was just announced. We instigated that with our friends and joined and brought a community together which was at risk of forking. Docker, we announced with Docker that we created an advisory board and move towards open governance we did this together. It is about bringing the community together creating open governance and a meritocracy. Just because IBM participates and creates community we earn our stripes just like anyone else. We have hundreds of developers in each of these projects. And what is really important around innovation is how these projects work together. We’ve got folks in Docker who are working also an Openstack, making those things work together through Magnum.

We got folks in Cloud Foundry who are working on Docker making sure that you can bring a containerized application into a Cloud Foundry environment right? That’s the beauty of what we do. There’s a constant democratization in technology. IBM has always been able to innovate right in that technology, into delivering value.


4. Absolutely. So I think you talked about Eclipse and Apache and all that, and there’s no doubt that developers were involved in that. Does Docker Kuberntes, Mesos and all that have the same impact on developers? Should developers care? Is it more in the infrastructure space? Help navigate the ecosystem if you will?

Just as technology is changing the value that businesses can give to their clients. And how fast they can deliver, how fast they can pivot and all of that, it’s also changing the role of the developer. You can’t change technology without -- you can change one thing without changing the other. So the role of a developer is changing. Developers need to develop what we call, what I think this T-Shaped skills. You need to understand your Cloud and your Mongo, your Node, whatever. Do your thing.

But you also have to understand the context. How do you deploy? What does is mean when you go into production? Make sure that you deliver your application and follow all the way through continuous integration, delivery, and test. Developer is becoming more like operators. People call them DevOps, I call it a fusion of skill, and by the way operators are becoming more like developers. Right? Not just in a way that they communicate. So yes, I think it is important that developers look at containers that they participate in the ecosystem that they even participate in OpenStack that you would think more of an infrastructure.


5. [...] Is micro services relevant to me at all?

Rags full question: Infrastructure okay. One of the pieces that I think developers absolutely care about is micro services, right? Because micro services, has kind of an impact on just about everything. It has an impact on DevOps. It has an impact on the containers. So you know the question really is, as a Java developer, I am in an enterprise and my monolithic application is running reasonably well, I don’t really scale like Twitter, I don’t really scale like a Facebook, is micro services relevant to me at all?

Yeah. So what I love about containers and what I love about micro services is that you can get a level of utilization and performance and efficiency in memory, Network IO, especially we run it on bare metal, something like software that allows you the IBM Public Cloud to allow you to run these things. We have done a test with WebSphere on Java run time. Where you can run on a bare metal inside a container, orders of magnitude faster, using half the amount of memory with much better IO. And you could stack those things out and they can communicate in a hub. And there are many, many applications where that’s necessary.

We start to bind those together in terms of micro services you start to do something quite beautiful. What’s really nice is that we’ve look at to the history of technology. The idea of rebuilding and recreating things already done is somewhat silly if it works and it works well, right what you want to do is to expose that function. Right and you’ve done that in the main frame phase. I mean the main frame business is doing great for IBM it’s growing and guess what, one of the biggest parts of the process going is that you’ve got mobile developers, who can access mainframe data through VSAM files using a Mongo API. Look at the power beyond that right? It’s unbelievable but you could still live in this multiple speed IT, right?

You can move on one speed on a frame and make certain changes that preferably delicate, these are certain types of transactions that I feel cautious about. Then iterate rapidly on as system engagement or user facing app or one that it’s a little different or you can move at different speed but you can marry those two worlds together. The tools that we provide in Bluemix, allows you to do that.


6. Obviously we are here Dockercon and there are a lot of great things happening in Dockercon. Do you want to summarize a little bit about Dockercon in general and IBM’s involvement in particular?

Sure. Look we’ve been involved in Docker a little over two years now. We’ve been involved in Linux container for many years. The beautiful thing about Docker and what’s genius is making container successful to the masses. That really started contributing. Everybody understood value of containers but making it so that folks can really get it. What they did was really amazing and watching the community grow is particularly amazing.

I think there are a couple of things that really stood out from this conference from our first one we had which we had, 500 people and this one has 1500 or so. First thing is open governance, in the end for any community to truly thrive you need to base on open governance. We announced the open container project, right, which is the start. It defines a open container format, it defines a run time that allows a certain level of interoperability. You need that, our clients want the freedom of choice. They want to be able to have the assurances just like with Java.

They can move work their workload in step one but there’s more. There’s more to be done because if you look at this Cloud Native applications you need to start defining APIs around how you orchestrate, how you manage and how you secure. How you create Cloud Native applications. So things have been a lot more action and community as we kind of continued down that evolution.

Second thing, that I think is very exciting is how our clients here really understand that a lot of what what IBM has done in partnership with Docker is enterprise-ready. And then there’s a word that’s loaded the “E” word and what does Enterprise-ready mean. To toss that word around.


7. Just sprinkle some magic dust?

It’s enterprise. For us enterprise means that it should be scalable that is resilient is fault tolerant that it can be recovered, transactions, we do that with the IBM container services. It means that you can actually introspect the container and know the problems of the container we find security issues. Everybody builds from an existing container, what if you got a container that’s got a bad operating system and this something behind in the patch level. We have something called the container portability detector that will tell you that or we set policies around before you’re going to production it make sure password length or the ports are secure.

That is what we mean by enterprise-ready. And we partnered up with Docker. We distribute the Docker Trusted Registry which is part of our premise Cloud, and that allows people who build those containers, move them off in an enterprise scale. Clients are excited about that so I think at the next conference when you’re going to see is users. People actually talking about production and perhaps even some mission critical stuff.

Rags: I think this is my final question and this is probably a loaded question. Is IBM turning into a technology company from a services company. I know it’s very open ended vague question but I hope you get the gist of it.

Look we are focused on delighting our customers. That is from top to bottom and is about adding value to our clients and helping them do better and serve their clients. We enjoy technology, we enjoy changes in technology. We focus on hardware, software and services. And frankly, when you think of Cloud, you need that, you need a Cloud capability on premise, off premise, you need hybrid, and you need the skill. You need the skill to implement these things.

Whether there’s an infrastructure implementation or frankly rethinking a business process, because you and I although I’m 21 and you look pretty young as well, they tell me that older people actually like doing straight through processes. They’ll come home from a trip and sit down and does their expense report for an hour well guess what. Most humans now, the one who are growing up they’re interrupt driven. They’ll do it in pieces apart it’s a state machine. That business process doesn’t have an official start and end it is continuous. No one is going to waste hour during this business process. That is changing how companies view how they interact with clients. That is a business consulting a business process change. You need to have all those capabilities to hope our clients dream that they are possible and deliver it.

Rags: Got it. So thank you InfoQ audience for listening and thanks especially, Angel, for doing this and that thank you very much.

Thank you.

Jul 21, 2015