(outdated) Get started with IBM Cloud – a student perspective

In this new blog post I want to address a common situation I see students facing: there are several cloud providers and you want to check out the different platforms. The reason is you want to be prepared; for example working with cloud resources related to courses at your university or for a hackathon. One of these cloud providers is IBM Cloud and this blog post is about how to get started with IBM Cloud. This is a tailored version of my blog post: How to prepare for a Hackathon with IBM Cloud for you as a student.

IBM Cloud provides a wide range and huge amount of different services, runtimes, and more. It covers both virtual and hardware –based servers on one demand cloud-platform, which means you have complete infrastructure control. One of the great things about IBM Cloud is that you can register for an account and try before you buy without needing a credit card.

From my point of view, one of the most important objectives for student is to have a running application instance live.

To do this you need a runtime 😉

Table of contents

  • A must know for students
  • Let’s start with the basics
  • Free online training
  • What is relevant for developers?
  • Quick and easy start
    • runtimes
    • services
    • prototyping

A must know for students

Very important to know for students is that IBM offers students the IBM Academic Initiative which is described as followed:

…  “Get easy no-charge access to the tools you need to develop the next great thing. Enjoy powerful technical and strategic resources from IBM. Jump right in with cloud access to powerful services and the most prominent open-source computer technologies, or take advantage of hands-on resources that will teach you about data and analytics, Internet of Things, and security.” …

There are many resources for students and teachers available from this landing page.

Let’s start with the basics

Let’s get a basic understanding of what IBM Cloud provides and where to find How To’s?

The IBM Cloud catalog gives you an entry point to find Cloud Services, Software and Consulting, each of theses entry points are organized by different categories like containers, storage and more as you see in the gif below.

IBM Cloud has a very good entry point for new users with the getting started page. The page is structured in five major steps.

  1. Explore IBM Cloud
  2. See cloud essentials
  3. Start building
  4. Helpful resources
  5. Get community support

The gif below shows the navigation going through the different steps on the getting started page.


When you enter the IBM Cloud dashboard you also see now a list of links to relevant topics for getting started in the IBM Cloud documentation as you see in the the picture below.

Free online training

I want to highlight the CoginitiveClass.ai.

Here you get free online education on pure technical or IBM Cloud related topics. An awesome start into IBM Cloud is the course IBM Cloud Essentials, it take approximately 3 hours. This gif provides a short impression of the CoginitiveClass.ai webpage.


What is relevant for developers?

If you you see yourself more as developer,  IBM Developer is a very good entry point to:

  • … dive into technology topics
  • … see what’s trending
  • check out Call for Code and join a community which building open source projects to fight back against the most pressing issues of our time.
  • …  check out Code Patterns, Tutorials, Videos and Articles about open technologies on IBM Cloud 

This gif gives you a short impression of the IBM Developer webpage and how you can find content for example for “Cloud Native OpenShift”


Quick and easy start

  • Runtimes

The most relevant topic to run your app as fast as possible in IBM Cloud are the runtimes.  You can choose runtimes from three major open source based technologies:  Cloud Foundry, Serverless or Kubernetes.

For a quick start (like at a hackathon) I like Cloud Foundry the most. You can instantiate one of the common build packs like Node.JS or Python in minutes and have an app with https and a free unique url available on the internet.

Create a Python Cloud Foundry App on IBM Cloud in 5 minutes.

  • Services

As you notice, there is a huge amount of services available on IBM Cloud. From my perspective the easiest way to start and to integrate state-of-the-art AI services is to use the Watson Assistant service. This is the underlying service for each potential AI user interaction in your application.  Here is a quick how to start with Watson Assistant made by IBM Developer Advocates.

  • Prototyping

I love to use the open source developer tool Node-RED for prototyping. From my perspective this is the best and most flexible choice to build easy integrations for almost all web technologies in a hackathon (Web Socket, REST, HTML and so on). To get familiar with Node-RED, just follow the Getting Started page. 

Make the most out of Node-RED for your powerful prototyping on IBM Cloud. I made a short and more detailed youtube video: How to setup the Node-RED Starter package in IBM Cloud?

  • Feature  Code?

At conferences and hackathons, you usually get a feature code for IBM Cloud from IBM. You can apply this feature code by following the IBM Cloud documentation: Applying feature codes to Lite accounts. The feature code upgrades the free IBM Lite Account to a Trial Account.


After you have applied the  “feature code” your Account Type is changed to Account Type Trial (free). The Account Type Trial  is, as far as I currently know, not listed in the IBM Cloud documentation.


As far as I know, with the Account Type Trial, you can use all free and lite services inside IBM Cloud, including the creation of a free Kubernetes cluster and you don’t need to enter your credit card number.

My following video starts with a short introduction of the the different account types and plans:

So, if you are a Student you can check out the IBM Academic Initiative, register yourself at IBM Cloud and start today 😉

I hope this was useful for you and let’s see what’s next?



PS:  By the way, you can use the IBM Cloud for free, if you simply create an IBM Lite account. Here you only need an e-mail address and for more information about IBM Cloud information sources? 

#IBMDeveloper, #CloudFoundry, #IBMCloud, #Hackathon, #NodeRED, #WatsonAssistant, #FeatureCode 

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