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BMW accelerates private to hybrid cloud

Sure, security is an important concern for any company moving to the cloud. But enterprise worries run much deeper than that.

As large enterprises try cloud computing — either by moving specific workloads to public cloud or by adding a fully automated private cloud — factors such as federation, automation, common management policies and transparency will surface.

When BMW embarked on its cloud project in 2008, its primary goal was to standardize technology across multiple data centers and business units, plus get a better quality at a lower cost. The “Golden Egg” for most enterprises.

“We are nearly at the end of traditional infrastructure,” said Mario Mueller, vice president of IT infrastructure at BMW. “We had clear targets: zero downtime; and with the solution we had, that wasn’t possible.”

But even a long-established company such as BMW, with skilled IT teams in locations throughout the world, had questions about where to start with cloud. “How do you do all the automation?” Mueller said. “How do we implement security? How do we do the identity management?”

Mueller and his team at BMW looked to the Open Data Center Alliance (ODCA) for guidance on building a private cloud to tackle those questions and, ultimately, get from the technology the agility, speed and uptime it had hoped for.

Mueller also happens to be chairman of the ODCA, which was established in 2010 and aims to create a unified voice for cloud customers. More than 300 companies are members and look to the group for examples of cloud applications that help show the way.

Private cloud: Just the beginning

It was clear from the start that private cloud wasn’t the end-game for BMW, said Mueller, nor should it be.

“The real target for most enterprises is the hybrid [cloud] model,” he said. “We have use of a new data center in Iceland where we do high-performance computing; we will get into the hybrid cloud model there.”

Benefits of cloud computing may not be immediate; it takes some time to get things right. Enterprises need to establish a successful private cloud first — and get all the benefits they can there — before moving workloads out of the company, Mueller emphasized.

But in the end, it doesn’t matter which technology you’re using. “It’s all about cost, quality, compliance and security in the infrastructure,” he added.