School on the Cloud: How academics benefit from Bluemix DevOps
This blog post is an update to a post written by Priya Aswani on the DevOps Services blog in September 2015.
My experience as a student: I wish my school used Bluemix
Looking back at my college experience, I wish we had open toolchains and IBM Bluemix Continuous Delivery. One of my courses was Advanced Software Engineering. It was a crucial course for the curriculum as it prepared students to implement their capstone and thesis projects. The course covered the models and metrics for software engineering, but its focus was software life cycle models, including the design and analysis of software subsystems, project management, testing, configuration control, and reliability.
Somewhere among discussions about agile methodology, transaction isolation levels, encapsulation, and stateful versus stateless architecture we had to develop our own innovative software solution. This group project was worth around two-thirds of our grade. My group created a solution that helps disabled people manage their healthcare. A computer camera tracked eye movements, so for example, a person who could not use his or her hands or voice could make an appointment.
Half of the students in the class were upperclassman almost ready to complete the program, while the other half were newbies. Needless to say, team collaboration was interesting. The structure of the course was fairly advanced: theories were discussed in class and students were responsible to implement those theories in the projects.
Learning the tools was also the students’ responsibility. For our group project, we learned Eclipse, which is where we did all of our coding and compiling. As team members contributed code, we had multiple versions, so we needed a way to keep the latest code and iterate on that. We downloaded a battery of tools: Git, and then GitHub for source control management (SCM). We also downloaded Putty for SSH and used MongoDB for the back-end NoSQL database. Testing for security required its own battery of tools to be downloaded. By the end of the class, I had almost no free space left on my hard drive. My team created a solution, but 6 months later if we were asked to re-create the project or even explain how each tool was beneficial, we probably wouldn’t be able to answer.
When I look back at that project, it would have been easier and more effective if we had used Bluemix, and specifically, DevOps toolchains in IBM Bluemix Continuous Delivery. In a toolchain, we could have stored and managed the code in one place, provided all my team members access to the information they needed, tracked issues, and debugged and tested efficiently. I would have learned more about continuous integration and delivery. Moreover, the project would have come together easily because of the integration with the cloud.
An even more important benefit of using Bluemix in a learning environment would have been the ability to focus on the big picture and how the interconnected parts come together. Rather than doing the low-level learning of how to use tools, my team would have better understood how the parts interacted and why they were needed. Our focus, as a team, would have shifted from learning tooling to fast innovation.
Bluemix puts industry leading technologies in students’ hands
Bluemix is an excellent way to introduce students to creating a software solution. After students have created their first project, they can experiment further.
IBM Bluemix is an open-standards-based platform where faculty and students can rapidly build apps as a part of their coursework. The Academic Initiative program gives no-charge or discounted access to IBM software, courseware, hardware, and technology.
Over 200 higher education institutions are already using Bluemix. For details see: Academic Initiative for Cloud.
An ideal digital platform for learning
Bluemix is based on the Cloud Foundry open-source platform and contains many non-IBM services. The skills that students can gain from using Bluemix are transferable and can push the bounds of transformation. Students can even use Bluemix to create their own service APIs. Bluemix is useful in many disciplines, including engineering, design, and business. The Social Sciences can take advantage of the Bluemix analytics services. On graduation day, students who used Bluemix will feel well-prepared and ready to take on their industry.
A wealth of Bluemix and DevOps Services resources are available to faculty and students. To get started, you can create a toolchain using one of the predefined toolchain templates. Faculty can use Bluemix teach a range of skills, from advanced robotics to simple HTML. I’ve seen young students get enthused about creating their own websites. IBM Women in Technology holds events throughout the school year in which they guide middle-school girls to get their own web apps running in less than 2 hours.
Ready to learn more about how you can use Bluemix for academic purposes? Participate in a hackathon, check out the IBM Academic Initiative for Cloud, or visit a developer community.
Several Bluemix and Entrepreneurship events are ongoing in various parts of the world. For a list of events, including meetups, see the Bluemix events page.
IBM Academic Initiative
Interested in bringing Bluemix to your classroom? Learn how you can nominate your course and attend our new virtual office hours to get your questions answered. For details, see IBM Academic Initiative OnTheHub.
You can also work toward a professional certification or gain badges for learning through the badges from the IBM digital credentials program. For more information about events in your city, see the IBM Cities Community.
Do you have a question that you can’t find the answer to? Most likely, someone in one of these communities can help:
—Priya Aswani and Hadar Hawk