BAE Systems eliminates application downtime using private cloud

BAE Systems has had no application downtime since it started deploying its apps on a private cloud.


BAE Systems has had no application downtime since it started deploying its apps on a private cloud.

The aerospace and defence company, which cannot use a public cloud due to the nature of its business, built its private cloud three years ago.

Prior to the private cloud, Charles Newhouse, head of strategy and design at BAE Systems, said that application downtime was a "rarity", but it did occur. He believes the difference is that now, if it does happen, users would notice the effects immediately.

"Since we have been running the private cloud, we have had no application downtime in it," Newhouse told the CloudExpo in London.

The private cloud has only had one, two-hour maintenance outage in the three years, which Newhouse thought was unnecessary because it was triggered by a vendor upgrade.

BAE System's internal cloud infrastructure includes Oracle, SQL and IBM's DB2 in the database layer and Linux, AIX, Solaris and Wintel in the hosting layer. Storage combines SAN, NAS and CAS (content addressable storage), and Citrix and Microsoft SoftGrid in the presentation layer.

As well as application resilience, the private cloud has enabled the defence firm to achieve a significant reduction, of at least 90 percent, in the time IT takes to supply new services.

Newhouse said that services are now being supplied within a "matter of hours" as opposed to weeks, so that applications can even be delivered on the same day that they are requested.

BAE Systems has also increased the usage of its IT infrastructure, from just 10 percent of capacity. Now, typically 80 percent of the firm's private cloud infrastructure is being used, with the remainder kept free for one-off large projects or extra load.

Although the company would never be able to use public cloud offerings for security reasons, Newhouse said: "What we can do is learn from the public cloud and replicate it."

One of the main lessons the company learned was to provide its cloud IT services with a consumer-centric approach. For example, BAE Systems has an online catalogue of the services it can supply, where Newhouse said that the information has to be presented in a way that passes the "grandmother test", that is, very simple to understand to encourage customers to use them.

Customer empowerment is also important to the business, and to this end BAE Systems operates a self-service model with a fair use policy for the cloud. This means that customers rent the IT services when they need them and the company produces a monthly credit card-style statement for the services consumed.

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