The unbelievable Machine Company – *um – was the first German company to launch a cloud service.
After almost nine years of growth, the *um team has a unique view of how the managed private cloud market has changed during that time, and is still changing now.
Recently I had the pleasure of talking with Mario Apitz, who’s head of operations at *um. We covered cloud adoption and data protection, hybrid cloud management, and why even successful cloud providers need help ‘going global’.
Plus, of course, how OnApp plays a role in *um’s cloud business. But first, I asked Mario: what makes *um different from other cloud providers?
Cloud and Big Data
“When we founded *um in 2008 there were only two providers offering cloud in Germany: Amazon, and us,” he says. “The market was still very much focused on traditional managed hosting for enterprise applications, and cloud adoption was quite slow to take off: when it comes to security and data protection, Germany is a very cautious and conservative market… so we designed our cloud service to fit.”
*um’s customers now include major media companies like Deutsche Welle, Antenne Bayern, t3n, die tageszeitung, B.Z. and Gründerszene; Metro Group, one of the largest retailers in the world; and clients as diverse as Gebrüder Heinemann, Porsche, Audi, Parship, Delivery Hero, Deutsche Post, easybank, dooyoo and MyToys.
“We focus on designing, delivering and managing Internet and big data applications for enterprise clients, and providing data science expertise and services around that – analytics, predictive systems and AI,” Mario says.
*umCloud – powered by OnApp
OnApp’s cloud orchestration, management and billing platform lies at the heart of *um’s own *umCloud platform. All enterprise clients run on their own exclusive private cloud infrastructure, orchestrated by OnApp: the *um team customizes each deployment, integrating OnApp with specific server hardware, firewall appliances, load balancers and storage systems to deliver the performance, security and throughput each client needs for its workloads.
“We handle clients at the kind of scale of 50 or 60 billion requests per month – clients running very large Hadoop clusters, NoSQL databases, Elastic Search or Node.JS stacks, and Internet applications on private cloud infrastructure. Our customers don’t buy from us because they want cheap commodity IaaS – that’s what Amazon is for.”
*um has used OnApp since 2012. How has the cloud market changed since then? According to Mario, Germany is now a focus for international businesses, and as a native German cloud provider *um is seeing plenty of interest from companies in the U.S. looking for a local partner. One reason is Germany’s strict data privacy laws.
“I’ve said that Germany is a very conservative market, and this conservatism is embodied in our legislation,” Mario says. “Things may change in 2018 when the EU begins to standardize privacy regulations, but right now, if you want to do business in Germany, you have to host your data here, in compliance with German law. We’re seeing lots of interest from companies in the U.S. who need a local partner who can build, deliver and manage cloud and big data solutions in compliance with German law – so they can go to market here, securely and legally.”
Moving to hybrid cloud management
How else is *um evolving its product and service strategy? The challenge now is to meet the demand for hybrid cloud services which combine different types of cloud infrastructure – on-premise and hosted, private and public, virtual and dedicated.
“Most clients use multiple cloud service providers,” Mario explains.”They run their big data projects and their core private cloud infrastructure with us, but they still use other platforms, like AWS. Our role is evolving to focus more strongly on the management layer, on helping clients across these infrastructure types.”
“OnApp will play an important role in that from a platform perspective,” he adds, “since it brings many different types of infrastructure together in one management environment – on-premise private cloud, global public cloud, AWS, dedicated servers and more. And on top of that, we bring our IT and application infrastructure management approach, our methodology – to provide consulting and services for the new hybrid world, which combines traditional dedicated hosting, private cloud and public cloud – and managing the whole project lifecycle, security, integration, compliance. The whole cross-infrastructure operational approach.”
Going global – and helping customers go global
Local companies are also turning to *um to help them extend their presence into the U.S., and further afield. OnApp’s Federation will play an increasingly important role in this. The OnApp Federation is a global pool of public and private cloud infrastructure, which OnApp cloud providers can use to add scale and reach to their own clouds.
“We’re a successful company, and we’ve grown strongly, but it’s still difficult for us to build out the kind of global footprint our customers need,” Mario says. “Clients have workloads they need hosted and managed in the U.S., or in Asia. They want to migrate workloads close to regional users, or for specific compliance reasons, or simply to offload some task to infrastructure with different price or performance characteristics.”
“Because the *um cloud runs on OnApp, we have access to the global network of OnApp cloud infrastructure: which means, we can start building global infrastructure into our managed cloud services, without having to invest in building our own. That’s a powerful thing.”
Our thanks to Mario and the *um team for talking with us.
Would you like to know more?
- *um runs on OnApp – read the full case study (pdf) »
- The unbelievable Machine Company website »
- Build your cloud with OnApp – take a demo »