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Integrate with IBM Softlayer Object Storage

IBM SoftLayer Object Storage is a service exactly like Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3). It provides storage layer so that we can persist our file securely on the cloud. I have a chance to work with IBM Softlayer Object Storage during integration with our Rails app. IBM Softlayer Object Storage is relatively new and there are little materials regarding how to do this integration. In this article, I will wlkthrough how we use IBM Softlayer Object Storage to store and retrieve file by making use of Rails and Carrierwave gem.

1. New Rails app, Carrierwave and Fog gem

Let’s start by creating a new Rails app by running the following command:

rails new ibm-softlayer-object-storage-demo

After rails project has been created, add the following gems to your Gemfile:

gem 'carrierwave', '~> 0.10.0'
gem 'fog', '~> 1.37.0'
gem 'fog-softlayer', git: 'https://github.com/fog/fog-softlayer.git'
gem "mini_magick", '~> 4.4.0'

Run bundle install to install these new gems into the project:

bundle install

2. Configure Carrierwave to use IBM Softlayer object storage

We would need to create a a file initializers/carrierwave.rb to indicate a few parameters for the IBM Softlayer object storage credentials. From initializers folder inside your Rails app, create carrierwave.rb file with the following content:

# initializers/carrierwave.rb

CarrierWave.configure do |config|
  config.storage = :fog
  config.fog_credentials = {
    provider: :softlayer,
    softlayer_username: ENV['SOFTLAYER_USERNAME'],
    softlayer_api_key: ENV['SOFTLAYER_API_KEY'],
    softlayer_cluster: ENV['SOFTLAYER_CLUSTER']
  config.fog_directory = ENV['SOFTLAYER_CONTAINER']

As you can see, I am using ENV variable to protect the credentials. These SOFTLAYER_USERNAME, SOFTLAYER_API_KEY, SOFTLAYER_CLUSTER and SOFTLAYER_CONTAINER key in ENV are populated by my rbenv-vars. You would need to install rbenv-vars plugin for your rbenv here:


and then create a file call .rbenv-vars in this Rails folder with the following content. Note: Replace the parameter with your real value:


You must also need to add .rbenv-vars to your .gitignore to prevent this file for being committed, pushed and exposed to the world.

  • username: is supposed to be your login username of IBM Softlayer
  • api_key: is API Key (Password) when you click on the link as indicated in the screenshot below.
  • cluster: is your cluster code as indicated in the cluster listing screenshot below.
  • container: like Amazon S3, it is the bucket name (IBM Softlayer use the terminology Container).

Obtain Cluster Code

Credentials Link

3. Prepare Avatar Uploader for Carrierwave

First, generate an uploader for Carrierwave by issuing the following command:

rails g uploader Avatar

Then replace the content of that file by the following:

# uploaders/avatar_uploader.rb

# encoding: utf-8

class AvatarUploader < CarrierWave::Uploader::Base

  include CarrierWave::MiniMagick

  # Indicate storage to use Fog
  storage :fog

  # Resize to thumb if file is an image
  version :thumb, if: :image? do
    process resize_to_fill: [128, 128]

  def store_dir

  # Expiring URL to retrieve file from object storage server
  def expiring_url(expiring_time=60)
    storage = Fog::Storage.new(self.fog_credentials)
    file = storage.directories \
                  .get(self.fog_directory) \
    return file.url(Time.now + expiring_time)


  def image?(file)
    file.content_type.start_with? 'image'


4. Create a Rails model to use Avatar Uploader

Let’s create a user model by issuing the following command:

rails g model User avatar

Then add the following line to user.rb file to use the avatar uploader:

# user.rb

mount_uploader :avatar, AvatarUploader

Then run the migration from your terminal:

bundle exec rake db:migrate

5. Test uploading & retrieving user avatar

First, open rails console by issuing the following command from your terminal:

bundle exec rails console

Trigger the following commands in console to see if it works:

user = User.new
# => #<User id: nil, avatar: nil, created_at: nil, updated_at: nil>

user.avatar = File.open("/absolute/path/to/an/image")
# => #<File:/Users/james/apps/blog-codes/ibm-softlayer-object-storage-demo/public/avatars/avatar.jpg>

#   (0.2ms)  begin transaction
#  SQL (0.3ms)  INSERT INTO "users" ("avatar", "created_at", "updated_at") VALUES (?, ?, ?)  [["avatar", "avatar.jpg"], ["created_at", 2016-03-03 00:13:01 UTC], ["updated_at", 2016-03-03 00:13:01 UTC]]
#   (1.6ms)  commit transaction
=> true

puts user.avatar.expiring_url
# => "https://....objectstorage.softlayer.net:443/v1/.../uploads/user/avatar/1/avatar.jpg?temp_url_sig=...&temp_url_expires=1456964053"

puts user.avatar.thumb.expiring_url
# => "https://....objectstorage.softlayer.net:443/v1/.../uploads/user/avatar/1/thumb_avatar.jpg?...&temp_url_expires=1456964081"

As you can see, we can now store files and retrieve back both the thumbnail and the original URL. The URL is an expiring URL.

Finally, as usual, the source code of this article is made available on this github URL - https://github.com/jameshuynh/blog-codes/tree/master/ibm-softlayer-object-storage-demo. Enjoy and have fun integrating with IBM Softlayer Storage

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