AnyCloud: Centralized Control, Local Flexibility

Global NetworkThe announcement of our AnyCloud architecture has a significant relevance for cloud computing specifically in Europe and, more generally, for all the regions of the world. Since the cloud is supposed to be global and borderless by nature, why would AnyCloud matter more to some countries or regions than to others? In short, if your product or service is digital and can be delivered on the Internet, you just have to put it online and the world will come to you, right? Well, not so fast…we strongly believe at CloudBees that the ability to reach out to the whole world does not mean that you should ignore local requirements.

Why is AnyCloud an expression of that need to pay attention to local expectations? Because AnyCloud only keeps central what really needs to remain central in a PaaS. And it leaves as much freedom and flexibility as possible to all the other PaaS services in the CloudBees Platform. This is the cloud equivalent of the “think globally, act locally” principle that business consultants have promoted over the last twenty years, aka “glocal”, and that many companies still struggle to implement.

Where did we draw the line between central and local in AnyCloud? Basically, shared services such as configuration, management and monitoring remain central, in a unified cloud service, while we decentralize the runtime services that allow applications to be actually deployed and run.

Shared services should remain central because if you just create a PaaS software and then throw it over the wall so that people download it and try to figure out how to make it work, you are not delivering a cloud service, you are just delivering a piece of software, the old way. On the other hand, runtime services should be as decentralized as possible, because this is the only way to truly take into account the diversity of local requirements.

Let’s start with two obvious local requirements addressed by AnyCloud, and then we will look at a few regional IT players that will also greatly benefit from AnyCloud.

The first obvious requirement is location of data in your own country. Many countries have put in place legislation in that area. This is a complex topic that is not a cloud question, by the way, since it applies to any company that operates multiple datacenters around the world. The US Patriot Act makes these local laws even more relevant today. This legal environment is in itself a huge driver for AnyCloud. If your company is located in a country or a region where you face such legal constraints, you can now safely use CloudBees’ AnyCloud while being fully compliant with local laws.

The second significant local requirement is the ability to connect cloud applications with databases or applications that cannot run in the cloud today. For instance, you might use a legacy ERP system that manages critical master data about customers, suppliers or products. Some of your cloud applications might need to have fast access to these data stores. That might force you to either co-locate your cloud applications with this ERP system or run them at a local hoster who can guarantee a fast connection with your own datacenter. AnyCloud is by design built to support these two deployment scenarios.

Beyond location of data and fast connection between cloud applications and non-cloud systems, we think that AnyCloud is also meaningful for many IT players in Europe or in other regions of the world, with a direct impact for end-users.

First of all, regardless of the ubiquitous and borderless nature of the cloud, business relationships and business decisions are still hopefully taking place between human beings. Trust and local understanding remain key dimensions. Therefore, companies want to build on their existing local trust relationships when moving to the cloud, instead of having to rely on a new and anonymous infrastructure provider. However, their existing hosters must be empowered with PaaS technologies that let them focus on their core infrastructure expertise, while delivering the full CloudBees experience. This is where AnyCloud becomes extremely relevant again. Why? Because AnyCloud does not require your hoster to become a PaaS expert and a PaaS software maintainer and manager. Those who try to implement and maintain very complex PaaS software today are struggling and find themselves sidetracked, because maintaining a PaaS mandates very specific skills and experience.

AnyCloud is also very meaningful in Europe for system integrators, in particular SIs with fifty to a few hundred employees who have a strong focus on software development, agile methodologies and web/mobile applications. They are often selected by enterprises, and sometimes by the larger global SIs, to deliver new and innovative IT projects. First, these SIs are embracing our DEV@cloud/Jenkins services right away because, as developers, they clearly see the value the services bring to their own efficiency and reactivity.

Secondly, with AnyCloud, they can now work hand-in-hand with their customers to define the best architecture for them, by smartly combining all the configuration scenarios that are made possible with AnyCloud. Most, if not all, of our highly visible projects in Europe today are supported by this special category of SIs and it helps them differentiate from competition by proposing innovative solutions to their customers.

Last but not least, AnyCloud means a lot to the European Independent Software Vendor (ISV) community. This is a very rich community, with strong ties to specific professions and local legislation, covering a vast array of languages and vertical markets. All of them are in the process of building a SaaS version of their products, or are transforming themselves into a pure SaaS provider. What were their choices until today when looking for a way to deploy their SaaS solutions? How could they implement a reliable and affordable disaster recovery solution? How could they deploy in several countries without facing significant technical and organizational headaches? These questions and many others faced by SaaS providers are now addressed by the CloudBees AnyCloud architecture.

Let me conclude by underlining two core principles that have driven the creation of CloudBees AnyCloud, taken directly from Bob Bickel’s recent blog:

1. Middleware is now a Service - not Enterprise Software.
2. Deployment of applications and load should be completely flexible and open.

As we have seen in this article, CloudBees has not just delivered on these two principles for the sake of it. We have put them at the heart of AnyCloud, because both of them matter a lot to Europe and other regions of the world, in many specific and practical ways.

Beyond an apparent layer of global uniformity enabled by cloud computing, there are many subtle differences between countries and regions that we must take into account. We are fully aware that it is a never ending process, and a fascinating one, even for a horizontal technology such as PaaS. With AnyCloud, by making deployment a truly local choice, we have a rock solid foundation to go further in the near future, for the benefit of our customers and partners around the world.

— Francoise Dechery, VP of International Business Development


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