You're probably thinking - Free and IBM in the same sentence ... is that an oxymoron? Yeah, its hard to picture IBM when you talk of free anything let alone a free cloud service and free database software. Many folk would associate IBM with a company that only sells mega expensive hardware and software to mega large enterprises for mega bucks. We'll that may be the case, but yes, the part about free cloud and free database software is also true, and I'll let you in on the secret for free ;-)
The free database software part is not new (but still bit of a secret to many) ... IBM released DB2 Express-C as a no-charge product for the community a couple of years ago. Express-C is a leaner, easy to use Linux / Windows / Mac version of DB2, the database software that is used by mega enterprises for mission critical systems and large data warehouses. DB2 Express-C on the other hand is for developers (including those using PHP, Ruby on Rails, Python, Django, etc.) ISVs, and SMB users, who want a fully functional database albeit with a free price tag (yes its really free to use for as long as you want without any time-based restrictions or database size limitations, although IBM secretly hopes that some point you will be making enough money to pay for subscription and support or upgrade to other DB2 editions with more advanced features).
The free Cloud service is called IBM Smart Business Development and Test on the IBM Cloud. Quite a mouthful, but probably not enough to detract you from asking, so what's the catch? There has to be a catch if its free, right? Okay, okay, its not free forever and its only available to those with a US address. This IBM cloud service is currently in the technology preview stage, and I imagine once the preview or beta phase is over IBM will start charging for use of this cloud.
The tech preview of the cloud service (lets call it the IBM Developer Cloud for short) comes with several luanch-ready pre-installed images containing development tools from Rational and other IBM middleware like DB2 Express-C running on an x86 based enterprise-class Linux distribution. Just like on Amazon EC2, you can dynamically provision instances (virtual servers) based on the pre-built images. Unlike Amazon EC2, IBM will not charge you 10 cents an hour for running these instances during the preview phase. And it only takes a few minutes to be up and running as you can see in the video below.
Useful links to get started:
- Sign up to use the Tech Preview of IBM Dev Cloud
(find the Register Now link on the right side)
- Download DB2 Express-C for Linux and Windows (or Mac)
for your desktop / private cloud use
- Download Data Studio to remotely manage and develop
against the DB2 instances in the cloud
Remember, the free IBM Dev Cloud tech preview is for a limited number of users only, so lets keep it a secret. Sshhhhh ...