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The Case for Cloud Foundry

Companies in Several Sectors Are Adopting this PaaS

Cloud computing is emerging to solve numerous enterprise IT problems at organizations of all sizes, and Cloud Foundry has emerged as a leading Platform-­as-­a-­Service (PaaS) to develop and launch applications in their private enterprise clouds.

Cloud Foundry is open­-source software, and available in "plain vanilla" code from the Cloud Foundry Foundation. It is also available in proprietary versions from a few vendors.

However, it's important to understand that Cloud Foundry is not owned by a single, proprietary provider, and its availability is not limited to the small number of proprietary vendors.

Common themes

A few common themes have emerged from organizations who are working with Cloud Foundry as part of their overall cloud computing strategy:

  • Governance, risk and compliance management
  • Information privacy and security
  • Flexibility, speed, and the ability to scale quickly
  • Short deployment time
  • Balancing agility, cost and control

I've recently been involved in a project to publish a number of use cases, which can now be found at a site called CF Live. A general outline of the sectors that are adopting Cloud Foundry follows:

Logistics & supply chains

Logistics and supply chains represent an intense competitive space today. One Cloud Foundry user describes it as "a race" to develop supply chains in the cloud. This pace makes it impractical to deploy and manage new and updated applications in local data centers. There is a need for an enterprise-ready platform such as Cloud Foundry that allows for a quick expansion to meet new customer demand.

A fully integrated cloud platform and infrastructure also allows Cloud Foundry clients to address major tasks such as database management and performance tuning, monitoring, security testing, patching and updating, reconfiguring servers, and testing updated environments.

Real estate reality

The highly competitive real estate sector is another that has benefited from the use of Cloud Foundry in an overall cloud environment. Virtual tours, work progress photos and community websites for home builders are examples of solutions that have been created.

One image database, for example, has more than 10 million files, accessed by millions of visitors. Real­ estate firms have found that it's better for them to focus on their core competencies rather than maintaining and deploying the software and hardware requirements of their customer­-facing portals.

One application in this sector encompasses 25 separate servers that serve more than 50,000 agents, with increasing annual visitor traffic and new features being rolled out continuously. The development and deployment team manages source code, addresses the various hardware compatibility issues, with the ability to spin up environments as needed. The company can thus conduct constant development in an agile, flexible environment.

Big manufacturing

Sometimes it's the technology manufacturers themselves who face the most daunting problems. One of them employing Cloud Foundry in it cloud strategy faces what it describes as a "sprawling collection of (almost 200) ad hoc, independently managed systems."

In this case, the company's IT department was required to offer a secure solution to internal clients, building in control, bringing about cost reductions, but without curbing agility and innovation. Before Cloud Foundry and the cloud, provisioning requests sent to IT could take two to three weeks to complete.

Department managers started to circumvent the IT department, building in significant shadow IT and complicating the situation enormously. The resultant lack of visibility and control gave IT management little idea of what was really going on, often with limited knowledge of what data was being hosted offsite and where certain business assets were specifically located. Security risks therefore abounded, with no guarantees that security patches were being implemented, and significant financial waste was occurring.

The development of a new IaaS initiative that integrated Cloud Foundry at the PaaS level got everything back into the corral, and now enables the company's IT department to offer internal clients a self­-service environment for new resource provisioning in the cloud. This on-­demand, automated suite of services supports the company's app lifecycle and also makes fabric services universally available. APIs enable access and deployment across the company's range of services.

MSBs benefit, too

Mid­size businesses (MSBs) have been benefited from affordable, multi-­tenant cloud, letting them be free of single-­tenant legacy solutions. Through the use of Cloud Foundry in overall cloud environments, they are able to spin resources up quickly, scale easily, and avoid the previous approach of simply buying more servers or renting more hosted services.

Particular examples include companies in the legal services business as well as logistics firms that need Warehouse Management Systems (WMSs) deployed to the cloud.

Financial services' golden challenge

Nothing moves and evolves more quickly than the global financial services industry. Within that context, there is a focus on mitigating operational risks and the costs associated with increasingly complex corporate actions processing. Developing a proven, automated solution continues to be a top priority and a much sought-­after goal among financial institutions worldwide.

One firm that was hosting its entire IT infrastructure in­-house required a renewed commitment to availability, flexibility and scale. The company must be able to adjust to changes in its markets and client demands in a rapid and agile fashion, and be able to do so through mobile devices as well. The ability to provision and deploy in minutes in a virtual environment is golden.

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Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040) is Executive Director of the Tau Institute for Global ICT Research, with offices in Illinois and Manila. He is Conference Chair of @CloudExpo & @ThingsExpo, and Editor of SYS-CON Media's CloudComputing BigData & IoT Journals. He holds a BA from Knox College & conducted MBA studies at CSU-East Bay.

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