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Businesses must get ready for a multi-cloud strategy

The debate about what is the right enterprise IT architecture has moved beyond private, public and hybrid clouds to the need to run multiple clouds

As businesses ramp up their cloud deployments, there is an increasing realisation among IT chiefs that their organisations need a multi-cloud strategy.

Some workloads may need to run solely in a private cloud, while others can run on Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services (AWS) or another public cloud infrastructure.

Gartner has forecast that public cloud infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) will grow by 28.6% a year through to 2021. The analyst firm also expects that about 70% of cloud service segment revenue will be dominated by the top 10 public cloud providers by 2021, and end-user organisations will use more than one (public) cloud.

However, a recent report by analyst Forrester noted that CIOs face a challenge in developing an effective strategy to understand and manage the mix of cloud resources on which their businesses depend.

Cloud Foundry is one of the dominant open source providers in this market, offering a platform to support multi-cloud deployments. It uses a container-based architecture to enable users to run applications written in any language on their choice of cloud platform.

In her opening keynote at the Cloud Foundry European summit in Basel, Abby Kearns, executive director of the Cloud Foundry Foundation, said: “Businesses are moving beyond proof of concept to production workloads.”

As organisations expand the use of cloud services, there is a growing need to simplify the way applications are managed and deployed across different cloud infrastructures. 

Speaking during a panel debate at the summit, Miki Mokrysz, developer in reliability engineering at the UK’s Government Digital Service (GDS), said: “There is a big internal debate in government on what we want to use for infrastructure. Cloud Foundry offers us a level of extrapolation.”

GDS has been using Cloud Foundry as part of its remit to digitise government by giving departments a platform to run their workloads on, thus shifting the culture of government IT. “We have hundreds of applications,” said Mokrysz. “Most of the projects out there are important but are not huge.”

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It is a similar story at Boeing, which has used Cloud Foundry to simplify its multi-cloud strategy.

Enes Yildirim, general manager of the digital transformation environment at Boeing, said: “We wanted to focus on culture change and leverage lean principles by making technology easy to use.”

Boeing had contracts with all three big cloud providers, he said. It also ran a VMware-based internal cloud, a cloud for container services and OpenStack, which meant there were at least five clouds running across the organisation. Given Boeing’s multi-cloud environment, Yildirim said it was important that the open source technologies being used work together to simplify the consumption of cloud services.

During the panel debate, Yildirim explained how Boeing had implemented Cloud Foundry. The platform has helped developer teams to focus on delivery and velocity, he said.

“In the first 80 days, we had a full end-to-end developers’ food chain,” he said, and over the course of 18 months, Boeing went from no users to more than 1,000 production applications on the Cloud Foundry platform.

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