It sounds like an idea that could only have a bad ending: ‘Build your own cloud.” And yet, several companies are successfully doing it to build a competitive advantage. This article explores some of those innovations and how the ideas and lessons learned may apply to your own cloud strategy and business.
The wrong way to build your own cloud
Prior to the establishment of the current group of public cloud vendors, there were several other competitors who built their own clouds. However, it takes a lot of capital investment, operational excellence and a successful and growing customer base to properly maintain a cloud offering. In 2014, Rackspace exited the market as a pure play IaaS provider to focus on managed services. In 2015, HPE shuttered its Helion Public Cloud for good. Earlier this year, Cisco killed off its Intercloud public cloud service. Just recently, VMware sold its cloud business to OVH and is now partnered with major public cloud providers with a more lucrative business model. Some of these companies realized that their core business was stronger when they ran on the clouds of others.
The right way to build your own cloud
In an-almost opposite approach to building a public cloud service, GE Digital realized that their competitive advantage was to build an industrial internet platform called Predix and make it available to customers wherever they wanted it, on private or public cloud. Initially available on private cloud in Equinix data centers, GE later added availability on AWS and then Azure.
For GE to engineer an industrial internet they needed higher SLAs than many public cloud providers were willing to provide. GE also needed a framework that allowed for implementation of a secure, high-performance cloud that could be easily extended with many services. They chose the open-source framework Cloud Foundry, which is widely adopted by banks, insurance companies, retail and industrial giants as the application cloud platform of the future. In summary, GE chose to build its own cloud, but leveraged existing cloud infrastructure and adopted an open-cloud platform.
SAP recently renamed the SAP HANA Cloud Platform (primarily focused on in-memory databases in the cloud) the SAP Cloud Platform, positioned as an innovation platform in the cloud. SAP is working to integrate Cloud Foundry into the SAP Cloud Platform to expand its deployment models and establish the foundation for a multi-cloud model.
IBM Power Systems offers the optimal private cloud deployment capability for SAP HANA. The platform is purpose-built for enterprise-grade reliability and provides a performance boost compared to other systems. This implementation utilizes SUSE, the leading OS for the Power Systems platform. It’s an example of the right way to build your own private cloud, leveraging the leading hardware and OS platforms.
Siemens built Mindsphere, a Cloud for Industry, helping industrial enterprises to improve the efficiency of plants through the acquisition and analysis of large quantities of production data. It was originally based on the SAP Cloud Platform, and will be available on Microsoft’s Azure cloud in 2017.
Huawei FusionStage is an enterprise-grade platform as a service (PaaS) product using Cloud Foundry and open source container technology including Kubernetes and Docker. It is available for both public cloud (like Huawei Enterprise Cloud, AWS, Azure, Google Cloud) and private data center deployment (like FusionSphere, OpenStack, VMWare, bare metal).
IBM Bluemix is a cloud platform as a service (PaaS) developed by IBM. It supports several programming languages and services as well as integrated DevOps to build, run, deploy and manage applications on the cloud. Bluemix is based on Cloud Foundry open technology and runs on SoftLayer infrastructure.
Other companies that have built their own clouds include CenturyLink AppFog and Swisscom Application Cloud.
In summary, building your own cloud can be a competitive advantage, but you shouldn’t start from scratch. Adopting a multi-cloud deployment approach, using an open-source cloud platform and building services that match your existing business competencies are great ways to be successful.
Click here to learn more about IBM Power Systems and SAP HANA.