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Compose Is Joining IBM (compose.io)
172 points by thomcrowe on July 23, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 120 comments



What makes me most sad is that a really, really great product is being sucked into a company who has no reason to offer services to a person like me. Knowing I could spin up postgres for $18/month was pretty much the sweet spot that gave me the confidence to want to do more personal, outside of work projects. Heroku's $50/month offering is far too much. But I have a feeling that this acquisition, like many others, means the end of the offering of a product to the lone-wolf developer who wants to just build something for fun that won't scale nor make money. I have literally no reason whatsoever to believe IBM cares about the little guy but I'm okay and willing to be proven wrong about that. I want to be proven wrong about that.

I don't want an email nor an empty promise. I honestly just want you guys to keep the name "compose" and keep that cheap postgres option open for the long run (years and years not weeks and weeks) so us folks who just want to build something for fun have a quality database with a professional operation to support it at the great pricing it is today.


This is important to us, and was a factor in our decision to go to IBM (which is a little counter intuitive, given IBM's history). Our entire sales model is predicated on people being able to start easily, and grow if they need to. Price, self service-ness, and the content we produce are all important in this model.

The thing about lone wolf developers, and side projects, and one off things people hack together over the weekend is that they sometimes "flip" and become big customers. That's when we win, and we monitor our funnel like crazy and continuously see that it's working. Interestingly, some of the bad customer experiences you see in this thread are the direct result of this model. We aren't very good at handling one offs, or doing things by hand, or consulting, because we focus so much on repeatable, self service offerings — which have to work for small applications.

IBM is interested in three things from us. The technology is good, the team is great, and the way we sell to customers is something they have told us they firmly believe is the future of selling tools to developers. There's a really, really good chance that you'll see other parts of IBM acting like us (and building things for you) before you see us becoming all enterprisey.

We'll keep the name Compose (because it's fabulous!), we'll keep the cheap Postgres option, and we'll do our best to keep that true for years and years.

For what it's worth, I greatly appreciate your comment.


I'm sorry, but you may think this is the way it goes, but I suspect you'll find it isn't so. My prediction is that you will be booted as CEO within a year, not because you aren't awesome but because you are a big part of Compose and IBM will go directions you won't like.

Hope I'm wrong, but I can't see how this will be anything but disastrous. Your key company abilities were you controlled your own destiny to a degree, and you could react quickly. Now you are part of a larger group within IBM, I doubt this will be possible.

I do wish you the best though, and that my dire prediction is completely wrong. I've just seen what happens when a smaller company is bought by a massive one.


A relevant counter-example: the group bringing Compose into IBM is run by the former leadership team at Cloudant (including yours truly). We're incredibly excited to have mrkurt & co. on board; Compose does a great job of filling out the Bluemix services portfolio and gives us a solid platform for launching new offerings going forward.


Well I can't be CEO of IBM! Not this year, at least.

I've seen utterly awful acquisitions, and good acquisitions. You're right that there's a lot we can't control, and we could be ground up by the big corp machinations, but I do actually think IBM has a big interest in not screwing us up. We shall see.


If it helps any, from my prior observations in situations like this, you'll know things are going bad when IBM starts "recommending" their personnel for management positions in mid-level and above.

That's "the canary dying in the mine" to watch for IMHO.


We had many of those fears when we (Vivisimo now Watson Explorer) were acquired. I'm a consultant on the implementations side. It's been almost 3 years. The C levels did leave but most of the founders and original employees still work for IBM even after the mandatory period. Basically, my job is still the same with a little bit of extra bureaucracy that comes with companies of that size.

Our client base seems to be growing much quicker now after getting fully integrated. It seems like people may be buying our technology almost by accident (packaged deals, etc) and now realizing they have it and want to actually use it. That's something that seems unique to these huge tech firms. Before we had to sell each person.


Will this change the platforms you target?

I'd love to see your services running on Google Cloud Platform, for example, so that they could be used with co-located customer services.


We'll target more. We should have a good GCE option soon.


Good to hear, a managed PostgreSQL service is the one big thing missing on GCE for me.


Check out www.elephantsql.com, we provide managed PostgreSQL on GCE, AWS, Azure and Softlayer


Yeah aware of ElephantSQL but the concern is lack of SLA and lack of big company backing. If you guys disappear, what happens to my databases since they run on your subscription, not mine. Hence why having an IBM backed Postgres on Azure is attractive - even though big companies can be frivolous, there's a comfort in knowing they're less likely to go out of business.


+1, except would awesome to see this on Microsoft Azure. The current SQL database as a service offering on Azure is expensive with mediocre performance. A highly available Postgres as a Service offering backed by a big co like IBM would be most welcome on Azure.


IBM actually "cares about the little guy" to an incredible degree these days. The last few years have seen a major shift in buying trends in the enterprise that puts developers in a position of significant influence. We know that if those individual devs have a chance to experiment with technologies as hobbyists and have a positive experience they'll be much more likely to recommend them for the next internal corporate project. Bluemix is the best example of our commitment to this space and the Compose services are a natural complement to that PaaS environment.


Just get yourself a free Bluemix account, add the compose DB services when they become available (and they will), and if your usage is on that hobbyist level, you'll only pay what you're paying now. You don't even have to use Bluemix itself for runtime hosting, you can access most Bluemix services from your localhost or other app environments.


"pretend to sign up to our other services so it looks like IBM is attracting new business and you can continue to use this service for free"


IBM already has some "lone developer" friendly offerings in bluemix, so there is hope


Just so you know, AWS RDS has Postgres instances starting at $13/mo hourly, or as low as $9.25/mo if you pay up front for a 1 year reservation.


It's also eligible for their free tier, making a micro instance (more than enough for most personal projects) free for a year with a new account


I liked what Compose was doing and I was one of early adopters. And I also 100% agree with their move (congrats!!).

As bootstrapped founder, I can tell you that customers who pay less than $30/month are just trouble. These users can used as early adopters and promotes - but not to grow the business. After company gains attraction these users should be dumped.

This is unfortunate story but that is status of SaaS: this kinda explains that there is very little new B2C SaaS startup.

Actually my thinking that for SaaS any offering with price under $30/month should be free tier and I think IBM will give your tier for free.


Have you tried Bluemix? It's actually pretty awesome.


I hadn't heard of Bluemix prior to this thread. It does indeed look awesome; the free tiers are pretty impressive, and going beyond that is surprisingly affordable. Definitely a stark contrast from a lot of other PaaS providers (in particular, Heroku). I'll have to check it out for some of my own pet projects.


Bluemix is an installation of Cloud Foundry; you can also try it on Pivotal Web Services (I work for the company that hosts PWS).

https://run.pivotal.io/


Bluemix has a big opportunity here as Heroku has been aggressively kicking out freeloaders lately. My company pays Heroku a lot of money in large part because the developers know how to work with it, but I won't use it for any of my personal play stuff anymore.


I'm not certain but I do not believe bluemix has a long-term free tier. It expires after a significant trial period from what I can tell. Is that not what people are upset at Heroku over?


there's free allowances https://console.ng.bluemix.net/pricing/


Nope, Heroku had a free tier that wasn't a trial, all kinds of people were using it for toys and experiments, some of them evolved into Serious Business projects with real costs, but a lot of them just idled along using minimal resources, but then Heroku decided the free lunchers were no longer welcome and severely throttled the free tier so that most of them now had to pay $7/mo. This took effect earlier this month. This was right on the heels of discontinuing their old stack, and apps that were running on it weren't auto-migrated or anything, just killed. So there's a lot of disgruntled former Heroku users out there.

I'm not using it yet but Bluemix does appear to have a non-trial free tier, and it looks like they actually offer a fair bit more than Heroku did.


this is totally true. IBM isn't really a technology company anymore. they're in the business of buying and selling smaller services companies.

also expect compose to be totally different after about a year (source: i've worked for a company that was aquired by IBM)


I don't know... IBM is really really big. Even if 20% of the company is technology-focused, that's still a huge number of people. They supply the finance and defense world with machines, operating systems, and compilers and they also provide support for them. They also have a research division that routinely publishes at all of the top conferences.


There's no question. A company builds some cloudy offerings with a few million and HN calls them a technology company. IBM's internal use alone is almost a billion a year of their technology. Then they sell billions to others. So, yeah, they're a technology company.

And anyone challenging them, their government connections, and patent portfolio better remember that.


IBM is both a technology company and a services company. They shifted their primary strategy to services when they saw it doing well while eg server markets weren't. Right now, they make billions selling mainframes, servers, and software licenses. They also hit 7nm in the lab recently while Intel struggles with lesser tech. Their R&D is several billion dollars a year ranging from product development to foundational science.

They're more of a technology company than most that make Hacker News. They also sell services. They also acquire proven implementations of new products and services. The combo is called a technology conglomerate & it's a proven model to make billions over decades.


IBM's Bluemix has generous free use tiers for deploying small scale apps.


This explains a lot. I've been a (large) customer of compose.io for several years, and since the rename to compose support of our MongoDB clusters has really gone downhill. They recently pulled much of the monitoring that was available to us via MMS, they disabled New Relic monitoring for several months with no explanation, and support has been awful for what we're paying - 13 hours for a first response on a CAT-1 issue, due apparently to a corporate outing that took their entire support staff out of the office.


This is unfortunate. It has nothing to do with the acquisition, but I hate to hear it.

New Relic and MMS were previously relatively fragile, hand done addons for some customers. Since the beginning of 2014, we've made an attempt to cut back on snowflakes and build reliable, self service features instead. It doesn't excuse you having a suboptimal experience, I know, but that's what's going on.

I'm happy to talk more about things if you want to email me.


We have also found their support and general attitude towards us (as a long term customer) getting worse recently, so much so that we are migrating off their platform.


I have no experience with compose.io, but will recommend object rocket / rackspace for mongo hosting. Great support, reasonable prices (as reasonable as mongo can be)


Who are you migrating to? I've been happy with Mongodirector (scalegrid)


Self hosting on AWS. The new MMS makes it pretty painless... clustering, backups, alerting etc, better IOPS and about a third of the price of compose.


We use MongoDirector for our production Mongo instances and it's been great. No issues since we switched to them in September 2014.


Same offer for you! I'm happy to talk over email. I'm sad you're migrating away.


I've been a customer for several years, never once had a problem with reliability or performance. I've used several other services and nothing compared to the simplicity of mongohq/compose. They've also had pretty great support for some obscure issues I've had to deal with. Overall, I hope this move just means more of the same.


All of the comments here that talk about price are saying how cheap Compose is. Really? Looks like they charge $12 per gigabyte per month for PostgreSQL, $18 for Mongo, and there's absolutely no free/hobbyist tier. That seems pretty expensive to me, at least compared to the other IBM cloud DBaaS offering, Cloudant, which is priced at $1 per gigabyte per month and is completely free if your bill is less than $50/month. Cloudant charges for transactions (gets and puts), while it looks to me like Compose doesn't, but based on my (admittedly limited) experience with Cloudant that wouldn't do very much to close the yawning gap for most applications.

Would someone from Compose care to explain why their pricing isn't really 12X or 18X greater than Cloudant? (And whose pricing is going to change? I'm kind of worried that IBM is going to quadruple Cloudant's prices, and then quadruple them again, to bring them into line with Compose.)


Cloudant's pricing is so different than ours it's hard to compare. Our DBs are all (currently) intended to be used real time, which means they could be handling several thousand requests per second. I would guess that Cloudant's pricing is similar to ours for DBs under load. Theirs just scales down in a way we can't currently.

Cloudant's actually going to be really nice for our customers. Since our service and pricing are meant for transactional databases, we've lost customers and potential customers who had mountains of cold data they needed to keep somewhere. As an independent company, that was the right choice, as part of IBM we now have a good answer for those types of data loads. We hope to be able to use our Transporter feature to make it relatively easy to keep data moving around between DBs, Cloudant included.


Back when I used Compose/MongoHQ exclusively for my sideprojects, they had a very generous free tier. They only recently switched to stop being generous (which is completely understandable).


Good job. I have an idea that might benefit Compose now. Research projects I've read on in IBM said that IBM allowed the internal use of any of its software tools for free. They have a lot of really good ones that you'd normally pay large sums for. I'm not sure if this policy (a) still exists or (b) applies to companies they acquire. However, if I was Compose, I would ask about it because IBM's tools & tech could greatly aid Compose in developing their stuff faster, more robustly, etc.

Plus, I'm sure other startups might want to know whether this benefit exists or not. Might even factor into a decision of whether a company wants to be acquired by IBM vs another company. A 100+ free (or cheap) software products would really really sweeten the deal to me if I was to continue working at the company post-acquisition. Especially those delightful, bug-hunting and productivity-boosting products. :)

Anyone on the inside know the answers to any of this?


Having worked at IBM briefly this is only partially true.

The way I understood it, IBM has a system called "blue dollars" or "blue bucks" I forget which one. Basically, groups within IBM are given an allotment of credits they can spend to "buy" other IBM products.


Ex IBM'er here and I recall it as Blue Dollars. I was in one of the UK labs so 'bucks' isn't a term we really use.

When it comes to software, you pretty much can use any IBM software you want (or are told to). A lot of the Rational products were heavily pushed for teams to use, although I think you had to justify why you use it. This caused some contention, as I worked in automated UI testing and the capabilities of IBM products vs open source alternatives varied quite widely. It was always fun justifying your decision to management when the IBM product didn't match your needs.

But when there is a service cost things are different. I got pulled into my manager's office being showed my bandwidth and storage cost of my Lotus Notes emails and was heavily encouraged to download my emails locally as the department was charged. I think there were similar considerations when it came to using backup software into their TSM - I don't remember exactly but have a feeling you needed management approval to use it.

Then you have the consideration of building one product from another. For example, I worked on WebSphere Application Server which was the app server of many other IBM products. There you have the consideration of which departments earn the revenue when a core product is shared.


So, the software is free for the lab and with no clear limit so long as you fill out the forms and such?


Yeah I think so. It's been 5 years since I left so my memory of the detail isn't a goods I would like :)


Appreciate it. Now I just gotta figure out if this applies to companies they acquire and are integrating into their offerings. That's the original comment I posted: Compose should use their tech where it's good and they get it free/cheap.


This is my understanding as well - you don't just get all the IBM software you want, but there are ways to internally acquire what you need on funded projects (or similarly, I would assume, acquisitions).

It's worth noting that more and more of IBM's software/platforms are cloud-based and even publicly available (e.g. Bluemix) so I imagine the landscape for this type of software acquisition is changing even internally.


You hit the nail on the head. There is some kind of free policy but the overall one is called "blue dollars." This just means what they charge internally for stuff and has less value than the "green dollars." I found this illustration from 2003:

http://www.petrovgroup.com/examples/IBM%202003%20HW%20Struct...

I doubt they'll give up $780+ million any time soon. However, my proposal in another comment to at least temporarily bill software at cost or for free might benefit them considerably in both green and blue dollars.

All really strange to a guy like me whose companies only dealt with green money and just used cost for internal expenses. :)


> because IBM's tools & tech could greatly aid Compose in developing their stuff faster, more robustly, etc.

Could you give an example for that?


Seriously? IBM has a whole portfolio of technology with plenty being very competitive. It's one part of how they're the largest tech company. Getting their software free or hardware at cost internally would be a strong enabler for about anything.

This would be a nice start for a division or project: Rational w/ all analysis & productivity addons; the management software; cloud services (i.e. backups); security services/software (basic); an IBM i (comes with DB2) for critical stuff. Add in some servers and storage appliances [from IBM] where needed as growth occurs. Also remember that that Microsoft used to run their whole business on one AS/400 until they were called out and replaced it with 20+ Windows servers to match performance/reliability. Funny stuff.

They have all kinds of good tech. A permissive policy on its use, even if for limited time, could greatly aid internal projects and growth of companies they acquire. If I was them, I'd throw my weight into everything on the software side given it would be as easy as an order, a license, and a download. ;)


There's a lot of examples. Have a look at Bluemix.net, Jazz.net, Bluemix Devops Services (https://hub.jazz.net/) and some of the DevOps tooling like Urbancode.


I assume he's talking about their Rational suite: https://www.ibm.com/software/rational


I actually have an awful lot of time for Rational Team Concert. The VCS is quite well tuned to include some of the notable benefits of DVCSs, while keeping things a bit simpler to work with. Work items are really nicely integrated too.


For the VCS, do you mean Clearcase?

Clearcase was a good idea in 2001, when the alternative was CVS. In 2015, I am wholeheartedly unconvinced it offers anything over git. (And I'm not a devoted booster of git.)

(I was nominally responsible for a Clearcase setup at Ericsson in 2001. I mentioned it in passing on the 2002 version of my CV, and no later version. I still get pings from those last few Clearcase shops, desperate to find someone willing to touch the thing.)

You may disagree, and perhaps Clearcase has substantially changed its model since then. What in detail do you like about Clearcase over (say) git?


Ah, I have no experience at all with ClearCase - I believe the VCS for RTC is a newer product with some conceptual overlap, but I'm given to understand it is typically substantially quicker and easier to get up and running with.


That's good news :-)


I'm conflicted on the VCS. It seems powerful, but the "bag of changesets" (instead of linear chain of changesets) model gives me issues when performing operations that I would commonly do on my git repos. In scripts I have written, I've encountered two changesets on the same stream occurring on the same second and accepted them individually in an incorrect order, which put the workspace in a screwy state.

(Also hitting the server for every little operation kills me. Even the command line tool just communicates to a java daemon to go hit the server, arrrrrgh.)


On reflection, I suspect a lot of it is less the actual VCS itself, and more the way it gets exposed in the UI. In contrast to git (where I'm 100% command line), I spend most of my time with RTC using the GUI, which is reasonably well directed towards the most common needs.

I think I also have a lot of positive thoughts about RTC because I remember how easy it felt to get started with it. With git it took me a little while to internalise how it worked, and I screwed up my repositories beyond my newbish ability to recover a few times. When comparing each to SVN, RTC provided me the improvements I cared about most (easy sharing, interim 'commits' prior to pushing to mainline), with very little learning overhead.

Combine that with really excellent work item/defect integration and I think it's a pretty compelling product. As you say, the constant communication with the server is a definite bummer. I think that comes out of the more corporate focus of an IBM product - for a centralised team sitting in the same building as the campus, a bit of server communication isn't such a big deal.


I'd be pretty salty about having to use the VCS if it wasn't so well integrated with the work items. Definite improvement over GitHub in that regard. (I've still entertained the thought of writing some sort of git translation layer, but I don't know either well enough to translate some of the crazier edge cases.)


It is an interesting point, but it really shouldn't matter what order you accept the change sets in as long as you accept them all, correct? Was it something specific to your project that caused there to be issues?


I'll try and reproduce the issue, but I think somehow the workspace knew it was in an inconsistent state, but wouldn't provide me the information to not put it in that state in the first place.

This was "fixed" in later versions of RTC with --accept-missing-changesets [0]

[0]: https://jazz.net/library/article/1372


The last one I remember was Karger et al's paper on lessons they learned building Caernarvon smartcard OS for EAL7 security. They mentioned in the paper they chose the IBM tools for static analysis, etc because they were free for internal use. So, I'm trying to figure out (a) if that's IBM tools in general, (b) who it applies to, and (c) how much.

If tools were available, I'd certainly consider Rational's modeling, testing, and cross-platform features as worth due consideration. :)


RAD is some of the worst software I ever used, I get angry just thinking about it.


Using your own software for development is one thing, but building a production SaaS by mooching off other divisions probably isn't sustainable.


There's risks. There's several approaches that come to mind: straight up free software; software and hardware at cost; one of these for a certain period to allow growth before charging for it.

The free software obviously isn't making the company money. However, most internal projects on a budget or startups in this era aren't going to choose IBM's tools. They're too expensive and not that popular. So, by not giving it away, they probably gain nothing in licensing. By giving it away, they gain nothing in licensing but might in the project's goal due to software's advantages.

For at cost, it might be sustainable. They continue to make most of their profit outside IBM. Inside IBM, they offer their products anywhere ranging from free to a considerable discount. The offer covers the cost of the product in terms of delivery, support, hardware, and so on. That money fuels development and/or cost-cutting on the offerings in general. Volume of IBM use alone might add several developers to any product. So, in this model, there's no losses past what they currently charge, the products get funds for development, and there are gains throughout organization via their benefits.

The final model is basically a trial period. The projects or acquired startups get to use their choice of products with discounts ranging from cheaper to at cost to free depending on budget. As budget or success grow, the discount gets lower. Over time, you have a division that's paying full price for the products or begins transitioning to others. You get the benefits of option 2 with some of what general market might pay.

Personally, I think Model 1 wouldn't hurt them except whatever they're charging for internal use. Model 2 seems to be the best with Model 3 having a chance of success. The reason I promote this is that IBM is sitting on a lot more potential than they're using, mostly due to culture. However, I think they could create significant, competitive advantages if all their projects and divisions could inexpensively use every key capability they've produced. Software productivity, security, infrastructure, and administration at the least.


Just wait bluemix has a track history of building a free tier of every service. Happened with sendgrid i.e. That was the policy at least

Bluemix has been weird to me. Got the hardest time to get founding and that annoyed the hell out of me. Couldn't even get space for the blue tilde group running (weird thing, maybe still on w3, maybe not)


I've very curious what the general "impression" regarding IBM is around HN? They are not discussed much around here.


IBM is huge, and it's hard to give a general impression around the whole company that makes any sense. I can only really speak about CDS (the division Compose is joining and Cloudant is a part of) but I can say it's a really exciting place to work. CDS is about as fast-moving as you can get in a company this large, and the leadership really understands the shift to SaaS. We have a great team and a lot of autonomy to make decisions outside of the general corporate superstructure.

I'm biased but think it speaks highly that Cloudant people (Adam Kocoloski and Derek Schoettle) were tapped to lead this group.


It's a huge place, but I agree with ahoff, having come over along with the Cloudant acquisition. I feel pretty good about our little corner of IBM in CDS (cloud data services). It's not a bad place to end up if you're at a data management startup.


I think IBM is turning around. It missed the cloud shift by quite a few years, but they know it, and they are re-inventing themselves, which is quite commendable for a large 100+ year old company.

HN often lives in the startup + Facebook + Google + latest tech trend bubble. But there is a whole world of enterprise + government (DoD) tech world out there that exists, but it is not talked much about here, unless it is being made fun of perhaps.


IBM is no longer just focused on enterprise and government. There's a big focus now on startups. Take a look at the Bluemix Garage where there's IBM engineers embedded in Galvanize in SF to work with startups but also help enterprises bridge the gap and learn from them; and also look at digital.nyc and tech.london. Both are IBM initiatives. So... IBM today isn't like the IBM that most people imagine and I am sure that the IBM of tomorrow will be completely different. You don't get to be over 100 years old and a tech company unless you can reinvent yourself to stay relevant.


That is what I was trying to say, I was just responding to what I think HN crowd's perception is of IBM, which I think is not accurate.

I think it is really great to see a company of their size and age change course and adapt.


IBM are increasingly pissing off their customers since they retrenched a good portion of their experienced workforce. I have a friend who is a CIO of a large company in Australia and he is increasingly getting annoyed with IBM's SAP support and is hunting around for alternatives.

He probably won't move from IBM completely, but they'll be getting less and less business from him. I mean, the other day their entire datacentre's network link was flapping, for hours and hours. It wasn't just his company that was affected, it was affecting even larger companies.

IBM's ability to deliver is going down the plughole. They've always been very expensive, but have been able to justify it because they were able to handle your issues effectively. That's increasingly showing to be not the case.


I just migrated from working directly on the IBM Mainframe in COBOL (gasp) to my true love of .Net and JS (yep, both of them) within the same company. I have been on a number of greenfield projects with IBM and quite frankly, my opinion of them differs based on the area of the company you are dealing with. For instance, I love dealing with the CI guys at Urbancode Deploy, whereas getting similar information from their Rational counterparts (Rational Team Concert) was like pulling teeth. Pretty much every experience I had with the Rational teams was terrible because they would hide information to sell more consulting services or additional products (even though they guaranteed the feature was available on our existing license). I despise the documentation sifting and information gathering required to use IBM products (developer works is a terrible site). However, I have much respect for the engineering that goes into those products and it is a joy when you get to work directly with their engineers to solve a problem. Good luck compose, I hope you get to be autonomous like Urbancode and not stuck in the sand of the Rational teams.


Rational's pricing model has always been "how much have you got?"


My impression of IBM as a place to work is that it's hopelessly bureaucratic in a way that no simple reform is going to be able to fix.

For instance. Once upon a time I had an internship there, working with a particular product dealing with server management. As part of the setup process required to customize servers, users were directed to go to a random university user's home directory to download one particular older version of some open-source boot-utility software (newer versions wouldn't work). This is, of course, a terrifying distribution mechanism.

Actually hosting and distributing this file wasn't something that IBM people were willing to do; you'd need to run it through the Lawyers. (This probably feeds a Not Invented Here syndrome.)

That said! At least the internship was with the Software division. The way I heard it, Services was 90% of the revenue and Software was 90% of the profit. Things are a lot better in Software. Still a damnable maze of cubicle farms, though.


My impression is that they have almost fully divested from hardware and are doing whatever they can to boost their consulting, services, cloud & analytics businesses - hence this latest acquisition, on top of many other cloud purchases.

This is smart, given that hardware is a commodity with low and falling margins, whereas it's very hard to price heterogeneous services such as consulting, integration, etc. They've done some shady things to cut costs, but they needed to pivot pretty drastically in order to maintain their position and restart a growth cycle.

Ultimately, I think the "big data" market is overhyped, and that IBM is playing into this hype. People are gobbling up data storage and analytics services left and right, but are the valuations equivalent to the value added to a company by storing and sorting a ton of (potentially useless) data?


IBM is not a company, it's a collection of fiefdoms. Depending on who your contacts are and a whole bunch of Game of Thrones like machinations within the company, they can be wonderful or absolutely abhorrent.


IBM is a financial engineering firm, not a technology company anymore: http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2014/10/20/the-truth-hidden-by-i...


If you only care about stock price, and even then no.

IBM is a large company that does a lot. They put more money and people towards pure tech than most firms, especially in places like IBM Research.


What people remember them the most, is their R&D. The beat Intel to create the first 7nm chip process recently.


Between Alamaden (San Jose) and Yorktown Heights (NY) in the US, IBM is one of the last few industrial basic sciences/engineering labs in the US, resembling Bell Labs and Xerox PARC from a few decades ago.


The Almaden Research Center is still a top-notch research facility.


I'm personally a really big fan of IBM's hardware, particularly their POWER-based systems. IBM hardware simply never dies, and I've witnesses firsthand the "nobody was ever fired for buying IBM" phenomenon. Lenovo's IBM-derived products (i.e. their ThinkPads and related workstations/PCs) are also among my favorites by way of their IBM heritage; ThinkPads in particular are known for being among the best laptops for FOSS operating systems (GNU/Linux, the BSDs, etc.) when it comes to out-of-the-box hardware support, and many of them will even run custom BIOSes like Coreboot.

I'm not as much of a fan of their software, though that's probably because I haven't really used a whole lot of it.


the Power stuff is going to be challenging I think, some of our db's don't support that architecture yet


They're a conglomerate that does three things: sell products; sell services; license software & hardware intellectual property. They made $92 billion doing this last year. They derive this stuff through a combination of several billion a year in R&D, acquisitions of successful companies, and acquisitions of companies with strategically useful I.P.. Unlike most tech companies, they've weathered decades worth of storms.

Unfortunately for them, they suffer that big company type of thinking that kills innovation. It's why they've had to acquire more. They're were also late to the cloud market. Their last CEO also practically ran it into the ground to prop up stock price before exiting with almost $300 million personal gain. They're facing hard times and it will be interesting to see how they adapt. Their recent push for innovation and agile is interesting. Hopefully a sign of things to come.


I have used Bluemix and generally like it. I only stopped using it when I was accepted into Microsoft's Bizspark program (Azure has good Linux support and is also easy to use). The days are long over that I would lease raw servers. AWS, Azure, Bluemix, Google Cloud Services, etc. all provide great ancillary services.


IBM makes some of the worst, most bloated, buggy and overpriced software I every used: RAD and WAS. They are so bad they are a torture on the developer. There are no technical reasons for choosing them. I get angry just thinking about it.


That company is large because it is large. […] By not seeking to strive, it conquers without effort.

The Tao of Programming, chapter 8, Geoffrey James, 1987


> We love being a distributed company. Many of us work from our homes and like to occasionally relocate for weeks or months at a time to work in other parts of the world.

I love this working style


Some of the hardest working people in show business. Congratulations!


this makes me happy! thanks


Congrats to the compose folks! IIRC, they acquired Cloudant a little while ago.


And Softlayer.

As a friend of mine who works there says, "IBM wanted to have a great cloud business, so they bought one".


And Blue Box (https://www.blueboxcloud.com/) a month and a half ago. Looks like they're investing in or acquiring cloud platform software companies like gangbusters at the moment.


As an IBM'er, I think this is awesome news!

Cloudant is awesome for CouchDB, but if you want mongo or redis, we didn't have a lot to offer before today.

Looking forward to working with you guys!


I'd really love to see a MongoDB provider in between Compose.io and MMS.

We were on Compose for 1.5 years, but recently switched off to MMS after we started running in to scaling issues.

Compose is a bit limiting if you need to tweak / monitor resources for scaling, but running reliably on MMS means really understanding how your deployment works (which might be the best long-term position to be in, but a bit distracting for a ~5 person team).

It'd be great if Compose could offer a managed MongoDB service that ran off instances in my ec2 account (so I'd pay base ec2 rates, plus a $50-150 per-server fee for managing the deployment)


This is the second "Cloud Database" company IBM has acquired recently. They also acquired Cloudant, a CouchDB based "Cloud Database."

Side-thought: Did Compose refer to itself as a Cloud Database before IBM acquired it? That seems like a very IBM marketing oriented term.


I just hope they are really keeping the pricing on current levels. I am running couple of legacy apps there, but I guess it is better to prepare for migration.

Any suggestion on similar services?


Not as shiny/pretty, but I've used MongoLab (http://mongolab.com) for remote backups and never had any issues.


Pricing really isn't changing. Hope you stick around!


I am sure I am sticking around as long as possible, but it is always good idea to be ready for all eventualities. Especially when you are running legacy apps that you have no time to update, but still don't want to let them die.

Thanks to MongoHQ I was able to move one particular app three times to different providers. It took no time, just upload the code, change DNS and you are good.


We're really not changing prices, you're good.


Maybe off topic, but why are these hosted search engines so expensive? $45/mo to start. Are there any $5/mo, low volume, machines for hobby developers?


Relevant to my interests. Founder of ES host Bonsai.io.

Echoing mrkurt, ES is indeed hefty to run.

Elasticsearch is going to require a hundred+ megs of RAM just to run an empty node. And then you'll want enough heap and CPU that you're not GCing yourself to death while importing data, or while churning through filter and caches. And then enough memory to run those fancy aggregations in Kibana. Times the number of nodes you want for redundancy, and for your master-role quorum.

It's possible to do long-tail low-volume ES hosting for hobby development. But to do so you need to dig in and consider ES hosting as a holistic system. We've worked hard at Bonsai to build a hobbyist-friendly hosting system. Our approach is to fork ES itself to introduce native multi-tenancy. That means everyone in the cluster is amortizing the overhead of all that JVM memory (and redundant data nodes, and master-node quorum, a load balancer and authenticating reverse proxy, and analytics... etc...)

The problem remains that ES, while easy to spin up, is still a pretty heavy system to manage at scale. So it's generally a lot easier to chuck some extra resources at it, maximize your isolation, and eat the higher entry cost.


I don't really understand the technical limitations too much, but the hardest selling point for me is that an ES Bonsai instance cost more than a Heroku dyno.

I couldn't get over the fact that I have to pay more for one feature in my app, than the entire cost of running the app...

I totally understand that the economics does not work out for you guys and that sucks. Hopefully things will change in the future.


Hmm. Considering Heroku dynos start at $0/mo for development, that may be an apples and oranges comparison here ;)

In the context of reasonable hobby/development costs, I our $10/mo plan fits well for that and is pretty popular. Pricing wise it compares well to a $7 dyno or $9 Postgres instance. And addons are prorated to the second, just like dynos.


It's not uncommon for databases to cost more than the rest of the app stack put together. If you're using Elasticsearch for a secondary feature, I can understand why it seems weird, but I think most companies spend more operating DBs than they do on the code in front of them.


Elasticsearch is pretty hefty to run in a basic configuration. Our pricing is a function of the resources we assign to cluster nodes, and a bare minimum Elasticsearch installation needs substantially more power than most non-JVM databases.


Because it's more profitable to sell larger accounts, even if fewer of them, than to sell many cheap accounts. One enterprise user at $100,000/year brings in the same revenue as 1,667 "hobby developers" at $5/mo, but requires significantly less babysitting.


Flip side is that you're less diversified and if you lose an enterprise client you feel it hard. There's more stability with lots of small users if you can make it work.


Welcome Compose team to IBM. I sit in analytics tech sales and work with CDS (particularly Dash-DB) pretty regularly and am very excited to have you aboard.


thanks, we're all pretty excited


Taking a look at Bluemix, I already see most of the Compose offerings listed. RethinkDB is missing though, are you discontinuing that product?


Congrats guys!


Pretty exciting!




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