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IBM Bluemix Meetups welcome devs into the ‘mix’

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At the beginning of the year, when I was tasked to run Meetups in Silicon Valley that focused on Cloud Foundry and IBM Bluemix, I was a bit apprehensive. It was a totally new venture for me and a relatively new way for us IBMers to engage with the community. Silicon Valley is a unique place, with companies that began humbly and went on to become ultra-successful, and thousands of small startups aspiring to be like them. It’s a crowded and competitive marketplace, and to stand out you really need to be innovative, always learning and on your feet.

Since Bluemix is a platform as a service (PaaS) offering that is targeted toward developers, offers polyglot runtimes and is based on the open source Cloud Foundry, I was convinced that we needed to talk about it organically and engage with the community at a grassroots level. Further, we have a great champion for Meetups within our organization—IBM Vice President of Open Source and Standards Angel Diaz leads a worldwide team that conducts Meetups around open technologies like OpenStack, Cloud Foundry and Docker, and that team’s success gave me the confidence to go down this route.

Bluemix meetup 2I began the task of creating and joining Meetup groups. I established the Bay Area PaaS, Cloud Foundry and Bluemix group and joined the leadership of an existing Cloud Foundry group. For further information on finding, joining and creating Meetup groups, take a look at this great write-up by my colleague Daniel Krook.

I was now all set to begin this exciting journey. Throughout the year, I kept tabs on which Meetup presentations I got most excited about and which ones were well-received by the community. The first Meetup on optimizing Cloud Foundry and OpenStack for large deployments went well, so that was a big relief. But next topic—an introduction to Bluemix—really galvanized the group and got things going.

IBM Bluemix: architecture and deep dive

Around 150 folks RSVPed between the two Meetup groups, and the presentation

was also streamed live. I ended with a demo of the Internet of Things (IoT), tying a simulated temperature sensor to a Node.js and Cloudant app running on Bluemix, all in three minutes.

The audience was pretty impressed, if I do say so myself. The Chief Product Officer from a Silicon Valley company wanted us to talk about Bluemix in their Meetups, and a professor from San Jose State University requested some help to include Bluemix in his courses.

The format we adopted for this Meetup really worked well. My colleagues Andrew Bodine, Kalonji Bankole, Vahid Hashemian, Michael Maximilien, Jonathan Berkhahn and I started with a talk around architecture of Bluemix, followed by a range of short topics and quick demos covering the wide spectrum of Bluemix services (including DevOps, mobile, Twilio and so forth). We divided the talk in two sections, and also discussed how we are contributing back to the Cloud Foundry community by demoing our work around Performance Acceptance Tests (PATs) and Cloud Foundry Command Line Interface internationalization (i18n).

So far, the slides have been viewed more than 11,000 times, and they have been shared widely on social media platforms and downloaded all across the globe. Folks at SlideShare noted that it was the most talked about presentation on their site during that period, and it was featured on their home page.

Docker, Cloud Foundry and BOSH: Reimagining application Runtimes and Packaging

In September, Ferran Rodenas from Pivotal, Michael Fraenkel and I covered how Docker intersects with Cloud Foundry and BOSH, including Docker Service Broker for Cloud Foundry and Diego (the Cloud Foundry runtime rewrite). Close to 200 RSVPs led to a packed house, with folks in the room from HP, Oracle, Dell, EMC, Cisco, Verizon, Huwaei, CMU and Altoros, among others.

The audience was enthralled; we’d planned enough content for an hour and half but ended up going close to three hours, with the majority of that time spent on questions and answers. Renat Khasanshyn, the CEO of Altoros, tweeted about it. We covered some really great questions from the crowd, including:

  • Is Docker an IaaS and PaaS disrupter?
  • Why Diego?
  • At the core of Diego is a container cluster management solution. Can we use Apache Mesos or Google Kubernetes?
  • How does the auction in Diego work?

Watson on Bluemix

This event was held during the Bluemix garage launch event in San Francisco, which was an initiative led by IBM Distinguished Engineer Rachel Reinitz. Anthony Stevens, Wade Barnes and I talked about the eight Watson services being offered on Bluemix, The slides received enough feedback on Twitter to reach the homepage of SlideShare!

Build scalable Internet of Things applications using Cloud Foundry, Bluemix and Cloudant

For this one, we partnered with Altoros, who acted as media sponsor. Renat Khasanshyn of Altoros spoke about an S&P 500 company that created an IoT business model using Docker containers and Cloud Foundry-based microservices. I and my IBM colleagues Syed Zaidi, Nicholas Vargas and Dwight Ford followed this up with a discussion about how to build scalable apps using the IBM Internet of Things Foundation cloud and Bluemix; how to collect data and send commands to sensor devices like Arduino and Raspberry Pi; and how to store and analyze IoT data in Cloudant.

Within 24 hours of posting the slides of this Meetup, SlideShare sent me the “HotOnTwitter” email. This was our third presentation to receive this distinction, and it was the fastest to hit 1,000 views. It really illustrates that content is king, and people keenly await our Meetup content.

Looking back

My apprehension at the beginning of the year has given way to enthusiasm, and I’m always on the lookout for the next topic that will excite and energize the community and my team. I’ve met some great people along the way, made new friends, and learned a hell of a lot—not only about open source community, but also about IBM offerings.

The strength of the online community has really opened my eyes. While I may have physically interacted with around 500 people at the Meetups, the online content has reached so many more people. The slides I posted as part of the events and conference talks have reached more than 40,000 views and have been retweeted around 6000 times, with a retweet reach (total number of people who potentially saw the retweet) of 1.2 million! This tells me that we need to look at these Meetups as more than individual isolated events; we can create content with a shelf life far beyond that one event, and our reach can continue to grow on its own.

Bluemix meetup 3

If you’d like to know more, leave a comment below or get in touch with me on Twitter @AnimeshSingh. And start learning and sharing your own expertise by joining existing Meetup groups or creating your own!

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