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BP to create enterprise-wide cloud application ecosystem

Oil firm looking to expand private and public cloud deployments

BP will look to introduce an enterprise-wide application store as the firm seeks to further its public and private cloud strategy.

Currently the oil giant, which has around 87,000 employee, has two main areas of its diverse business which are in either public or private clouds.

Last year the company announced a five year deal for T-Systems to migrate its Microsoft Exchange servers into a private cloud, in order to handle its 169,000 mailboxes, 7,100 distribution lists and 9.9 million email messages a month.

While email systems have been placed in a private cloud for security reasons, the firm's digital communications platform, encompassing hundreds of websites, is being driven by a number of public cloud providers. This includes Amazon Web Services for Iaas and eight other Saas providers including Akamai.

One of the drivers for the need to move to the cloud was a spike in demand on BP's communications platform following the Gulf of Mexico disaster. The oil spill incident in 2011 resulted in a massive increase in the number of visitors to the BP websites - increasing from tens of thousands of hits per month to tens of millions, placing massive demands on existing infrastructure.

"We need to be able to handle 100 million page hits per month - the incident in the Gulf of Mexico shows that you need to be prepared for the unknown," said BP CIO Dana Deasy at Cloud World Forum in London. "Page views for people trying to access information on our site rose from a few tens of thousands to seventy million - that is really spiky and an example of how we have to provision at a very large scale."

Having begun to put more of its web platforms in the cloud, BP is now looking to continue the migration across other parts of the enterprise. Deasey acknowledged that introducing a large-scale move to the cloud is a challenge for such a diverse company - with its business ranging from the discovery and drilling of oil to trade and customer focused systems - due to the standardisation inherent in cloud services.

Another challenge is connecting with the legacy software and hardware systems on BP's complex infratructure across many geographical regions, including 17,000 servers in five data centres a 13,000 teraflop HPC.

Part of the plan is to open up the business to dealing with a larger number of cloud suppliers to provide services across its business.

"We have put some things out there in the cloud, but we have done this in an ad-hoc basis. We want to be able to really industrialise this, and not just do six cloud projects at once, but hundreds," he said.

He added that the strategy will require a change in the way its IT department operates: "We are looking at a broker of cloud services - so what is the role of traditional IT when you are going to a cloud broker?"

According to BP's cloud architect Paul McMahon, moving even more of the business into the cloud in future will involve setting up a 'app shop' for approved software that can be accessed across the various elements of the organisation.

"For the digital platform we are leveraging Amazon and a number of other cloud providers. Going forward we a re looking at creating a cloud ecosystem that enables us to plug cloud providers in as long as they meet a set of BP rules we are looking to establish that to help us deal with our regulatory and security obligations," he said, speaking to ComputerworldUK.

"The idea is to make a framework - a bit like an App Store for cloud providers - that enables us to understand what a cloud provider can and can't do and then approve that in a BP context."


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