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Pardon the disruption: The new Composable Business

April 29, 2014

As we head into Day 2 of IBM Impact 2014 conference goers, both real and virtual, seem abuzz with the notion of the “Composable Business.” The term was first introduced by Robert LeBlanc, IBM SVP for Software and Cloud Solutions in the Day 1 general session:

“A ‘Composable Business’ is a business that restlessly reinvents itself by leveraging the power of cloud, mobile and data to disruptive advantage.”

To fully understand this phenomenon, it’s important to understand the forces currently at work in the market. Leblanc succinctly described these as:

  • Drive for more personalized computing
  • Unbundling business offers
  • Appearance of and desire to create “killer apps” that disrupt entire industries

In fact, Leblanc continued, “data availability is driving an expectation that business will customize the experience and offering for a single individual.”  Leblanc went on to say that companies today need to treat cloud as a growth engine, reinvent their mobile experiences and leverage big data as a transformative catalyst.

To that end, IBM announced the Cloud Marketplace, an environment offering solutions (both IBM’s and a third party ecosystem) for trial, experimentation and purchase. In addition, the Cloud Marketplace will feature a newly expanded BlueMix. This is IBM’s open cloud architecture, announced at IBM Pulse 2014, that enables developers to rapidly build, deploy and manage cloud applications, while tapping a growing ecosystem of available services and runtime frameworks.

At the Big Data & Analytics Keynote, later that afternoon, IBM unveiled its new Big Data & Analytics offerings on BlueMix.

Geospatial Analytics. This enables real-time region monitoring and produces notifications and alerts when a device enters (or leaves) a pre-defined region. This is essential for all Internet of Things solutions that need to turn analysis of location into insight or actions into real-time promotional offers.

Reporting service. Available for beta this quarter, a new Cognos Reporting service will make it easy to add reporting features such as data visualizations to apps. Developers can analyze data stored in BLU Acceleration or BigInsights via Big SQL to produce stunning data visualizations using IoT data.

Time Series Database. Allows developers to manage a data store for "Internet of Things" device data, perform analysis on that data and minimize storage used. A time series is any set of data that is accessed in sequence by time and can be processed and analyzed in chronological order, such as data generated by smart meters, RFID tags and other sensors and devices. 

Predictive Scoring. This enables developers to easily add scoring to an application without programming to improve recommendations. With predictive analytics, you can analyze past results to determine what normal is and identify patterns and trends that predict what is likely to happen. This means you could determine if an insurance claim application is likely to be fraudulent. 

Leon Katsnelson and two developers then stunned the crowd by building a fully-functioning app, leveraging these two new services (and some existing) while on stage. From start to finish, the app build took approximately four minutes. Here’s that build, summarized:

1.     Use small Kiwi wearable device to detect incapacitating falls and alert family/care professionals.

  • image_5_0.jpegCreate new app on BlueMix with one click
  • Add Cloudant NoSQL database service for geographically distributed, resilient device data database to handle 50 readings/sec which is 4.2 million JSON documents per day
  • Add Node.js service to the app to build gesture recognition
  • Add Tvilio service to text/call family when fall detected

2.     Stream raw device and fall incident data in to analytic repositories.

  • Add BLU Acceleration  in-memory database and set up real time data load of fall events from Cloudant
  • Create a quick fall event report in Cognos (included in BLU Acceleration)
  • MapReduce service and connect to Cloudant to receive raw device readings data

3.     Evolve infrastructure to handle rapidly expanding subscriber base. Add security and compliance monitoring to data services.

  • Transition from multi-tenant to a dedicated Cloudant
  • Streams in-memory real time analytics to handle gesture recognition for thousands of subscribers
  • Transition to a dedicated MapReduce (BigInsights) Hadoop cluster
  • Enable security and compliance monitoring in data services

With that demonstration, Katsnelson and his developer cohorts proved the value of BlueMix and the Cloud Marketplace in enabling a truly composable business, in minutes, on stage, at IBM Impact 2014.