Getting Started with Bluemix or “How to bluemix”

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As of May 23rd IBM Bluemix Container Service now provides a native Kubernetes operations experience while removing the burden of maintaining master nodes. Kubernetes itself is based on the Docker engine for managing software images and instantiating containers. Get the details.

Coming from an environment with a focus on operational and feature stability, consistency and high availability, and now working in the era of Cloud Computing, agile development and continuous everything, products— or better —platforms like IBM Bluemix seem like an entirely different world. Truth is that once I found my bearings, once I knew how to navigate within the world of Bluemix, I started feeling at home. Here is what I learned, the first installment of my “how to bluemix”…

Bluemix by Region and Organization

Bluemix Account Overview Once you have logged into Bluemix, in most of the cases the dashboard should be shown. Its content and also the services offered to you in the Bluemix catalog depend on the selected region and the organization (see the screenshot).

Bluemix and its services are hosted in different data centers around the world (regions) and not all services are available in each data center (see Bluemix overview for more details). You can find out which regions are available and which services are supported in a region by checking out the Bluemix status page.

Each user can belong to several organizations and each “org” has its own resources. Depending on the selected organization, you will see different statistics in your dashboard.

Microservices, Containers, and Virtual Machines

Bluemix is flexible in the way you can build and deploy your applications and services; Bluemix gives you Compute options. Microservices and instant runtimes are the foundation for very flexible Cloud Foundry apps based on the twelve-factor app concept. IBM Containers for Bluemix allow you to deploy Docker containers. And IBM Virtual Machines in Bluemix are based on the OpenStack standard.


The documentation for Bluemix and its services is all available under “/docs” in each of the regions, e.g., for “Europe/Great Britain” or for “North America/US-South”. I found it important to understand that the documentation is frequently updated and extended. Those pages also have a link section pointing to tutorials, samples, and deeper product documentation like the Cloud Foundry, Docker, and Openstack reference and Knowledge Centers for individual cloud services.

Services, Boilerplates, Runtimes, and More…

All the important stuff, namely the 100+ services, can be found in the “catalog”. It is organized by starter kits (so-called boilerplates) and service categories. Database systems as a service, Spark and Hadoop for analytics, NoSQL database engines and more can be found under the “Data and Analytics” category.

Services to securely integrate your own data centers (on-premises resources or “systems of record”) can be found under the integration category. At the bottom of the catalog is also a link to another catalog which offers experimental services. It is the Bluemix Labs Catalog which provides this glimpse at the future. Given all these services, now what? Either just click on one to provision that service or read a tutorial.

How To…?

I didn’t know that for a long time, but there is a developerWorks “How to” section for all kinds of Bluemix topics. Or you may prefer to start with the Bluemix Fundamentals or dive right into the online course. There are also GitHub repositories maintained by various teams that offer great tutorials and sample apps.

If you are an architect or interested in building (or have to build) more complex cloud-based solutions, then the developerWorks Cloud Architecture Center is for you. It provides blueprints for different solution types and you can just search or filter by industry, capabilities or more.

Bluemix Status and Updates

The status of Bluemix and its core parts as well as of most of its services can be seen on its dedicated Bluemix status page. On that same page you find a link to the RSS/atom feed of Bluemix notifications. Make sure to subscribe for service news.

Overview of Bluemix status and notifications

Getting Help

There are a couple options to get help or to dig deeper into technical issues. Questions can be directly send to the Bluemix Support or asked at developerWorks Answers or Stack Overflow. The documentation pages for many of the services also link to detailed product manuals for the software products building the foundation for the SaaS offering.

  • For a quick overview of support options, see Getting Bluemix Support.
  • For standard support click on the circled head icon on the right upper hand on the Bluemix site (from within your Bluemix account) and then click on either “Get help” to open a support ticked or “Submit an Idea” for feature suggestions (as shown in the screenshot above).
  • More popular in general and the preferred location for technical Bluemix questions is Stack Overflow. Many of the Bluemix services have their own tag and it is important before asking to remember that Stack Overflow is focused on programming questions.
  • For product or status-specific questions, developerWorks Answers (dW Answers) is your venue of choice. Questions are tagged with topics and Bluemix and some of its services have a tag of their own.

The discussed options are also shown on the Bluemix Support webpage together with known issues and the current Bluemix status.

So much for my overview on “how to bluemix”. With the provided description and links, you should be able to navigate Bluemix, to understand the basic concepts, and start feeling at home – similar to how I did. Let me know if something is missing or should be clarified.

Technical Offering Manager / Developer Advocate

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