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UKCloud addresses public sector call for open standards with Red Hat

Cloud provider turns to Red Hat’s OpenStack Platform to provide organisations with open infrastructure

UKCloud and Red Hat have teamed up to address one of the public sector's most pressing IT needs – better access to services build on open standards.

UKCloud listened to its customers, who were seeking a stable platform that could scale and grow as demand warrants. Choosing an open source option was essential, because it offers more flexibility, the company explained.

"As we developed a suitable platform, we also shared the government's view in the benefits of using open standards," Simon Hansford, CEO of UKCloud said. "We wanted to ensure that any extension to our existing platform provided our customers with the same level of ease of adoption as our current platform as well as making it to be easy to leave  in other words without any lock-in."

The company decided that OpenStack, with its breadth of features, strong and open API, wide adoption and commitment to open standards was the platform to choose. Hansford explained that UKCloud found OpenStack's level of maturity to be higher than other options too, making it more robust for enterprises and perfect for hosting high-performance applications for the public sector.

Choosing Red Hat

UKCloud tested solutions from a number of OpenStack commercial vendors to minimise the risks associated with the use of open solutions and maximise the ability to migrate workloads from other OpenStack distributions.

"Red Hat stood out for its experience in this arena and the level of support that it could offer," Hansford said. "Red Hat's OpenStack distribution was certainly 'enterprise-ready' and we had confidence not only in its technical capabilities and support teams, but also in the support [the company] could provide to us as it has for other partners and clients."

He added that Red Hat's OpenStack distribution was the only one that supported multi-tenant capabilities at the time it was looking to implement a new solution. Crucially, the platform also delivered the necessary security and data assurance that is essential for any technology consideration in the public sector thanks to its locally hosted infrastructure.

"This immediately answers questions about the jurisdiction of UK public sector data and with recent swings in currency exchange rates, has allowed UKCloud to offer a stable pricing model to its UK customers in a time of considerable flux," Martin Percival, senior solutions architect at Red Hat, said.

A fast turnaround that allows for innovation

The implementation of Red Hat's distribution took seven months, which was significantly faster than the 24 month average that's often associated with projects of this size.

"To a great extent [the speed of delivery] was due not only to the quality of our team, but also to the quality of the support provided by Red Hat professional services," Hansford said.

The intensive phase of testing for the Red Hat's OpenStack distribution and its implementation at UKCloud took four months, Hansford said. However, to ensure the platform is constantly evolving to accommodate customers' needs, Red Hat and UKCloud are running a constant beta programme within a test environment, so enhancements can be trialled as soon as they're needed.

Constantly evolving to address customer needs

UKCloud plans to keep evolving its OpenStack Platform by keeping on top of advancements in the technology, as demonstrated by its recent upgrade to the OpenStack Mitaka release.

"We are also looking to add additional enhancements and innovations along the way," Hansford said. "Many of these will be revealed in our forthcoming G-Cloud 9 offering."

As a result of Red Hat's OpenStack implementation, UKCloud has experienced a dramatic improvement in its ability and speed to on-board clients.

"Red Hat's OpenStack Platform has also enabled us to achieve marketing leading performance – with an external benchmark against both Azure and AWS showing that we out performed them in everything from instance boot times and disk IOPS to network throughput," Hansford added.

Red Hat said that its partnership with UKCloud is a perfect example of a successful delivery of the Red Hat OpenStack Platform, combining the skills of UKCloud with those of the company's own services team to ensure a good early design is matched by a strong platform for future growth.

"The multi-tenant nature of our solution makes it suitable not only for customers building private cloud architectures, but also for a partner like UKCloud to offer it as a fully serviced platform for multiple end customers of their own."

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