Getting Stuff Done: Startups Now Have More Options with IBM’s BlueMix

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Getting stuff done: it’s how most startups roll. Brand affinity or brand loyalty generally isn’t a key consideration, but having the right tools, counting on them to work and deliver and doing it all at light speed matters most.

At Impact2014, IBM’s introduction of the Platform as a Service offering BlueMix caught my attention. Hearing enterprise talk like a startup was deliciously ironic, as the ideas of lean and speed has certainly caught their attention.

There’s no such thing as being late in the game when it’s still very early in the PaaS game. IBM has the muscle and horsepower to make an impact. Ultimately, the more options a startup team has, the better.

Jim Deters is the co-founder and managing director of Galvanize, a Denver-based startup focusing on coalescing communities of early stage technology companies. Deter’s is teaming up with IBM’s Rachel Reinitz who is an IBM Distinguished Engineer and CTO of the BlueMix Garage. Together their teams are launching the first BlueMix Garage, a consulting and community lab in San Francisco.

“I wouldn’t count these guys out. They’re going to make some big bets. Had you asked me 18 months ago would I be sitting here talking about IBM doing this, the answer would have been no way,” said Deters. “I do think it’s a very big statement for them to make the commitment and to move as fast as they are to put people on the ground inside of our campuses is a very big deal.”

gschool“A big part of this effort is working almost like connective tissue to further introduce teams to formal programs like SoftLayer Catalyst, and informal introductions to things such as the Watson developer program, the research group , or the analytics team,” said Reinitz. She added that “it’s all about an exchange of ideas and getting to know these startups.”

The opportunity to have access to tools, services, people and resources is good, but just as importantly is the potential to meet with IBM enterprise customers. She shared how “we’re bringing in an insurance company to the Garage for instance, and we’ll introduce them to some of the startups we think they’ll find interesting. It’s really a two-way dialogue, where the enterprises can learn from how the startups think and can definitely help break down the barriers of access for the startups who are looking to sell into the space. It’s a great chance for the startups to test out their ideas.”

BlueMix is still in beta so it was valuable talking with Michael Garel (Founder & CEO) of eyeQ, a startup that’s barely two years old about his experience so far.

In November they were given the chance to start with BlueMix while still in closed beta. He said they’d been using Rackspace for a while, but liked how “we didn’t have to provision a server. It was really straightforward to build our operating environment. You could autoscale instances, it was very friendly for a small team with the potential to grow large. It has the ability to really easily scale. Everything just scale as you need it to.”

“It was probably after two weeks of working with them that I thought we were done,” continued Garel. “My co-founder was cursing the thing. He was continually giving them feedback, and to my surprise about 3 weeks later our whole dev environment was in BlueMix because they’d fixed their problems. He loved the fact they were listening to him, and making changes based on his feedback.”

For startups, another part of the BlueMix offering will be access to the recently opened Cloud Marketplace. IBM’s Reinitz talked about the opportunity for startups to offer their services in this marketplace, and “we’re also exploring having services available that are not quite fully baked and still somewhat experimental.” This could be a good Beta testing ‘playground’ for the right kind of applications, and a chance to get some early access and traction to a customer base traditionally challenging to reach.

Vancouver’s development community is getting an introduction to BlueMix with two events in June, including a MeetUp, Introducing BlueMix: Rapidly build, deploy and manage Cloud applications. There’s also a hands on workshop scheduled too.

For any startup that’s planning to do business in key enterprise verticals, like finance, healthcare, transportation, retail, or government putting IBM on your radar is a worthy looking consideration.

John Gray

John Gray

John jumped into the start-up world in early 2009. He was co-founder of Mentionmapp, a visual analytics company that was acquired in October 2011. John is Launch Academy's Program Facilitator, and is leading their Lean Entrepreneur Program. He's a freelance writer, focusing on keeping the humanity in our conversations about technology. John has a B.Ap.Sc. in Communications and a B.A. in English, both from Simon Fraser University.