BP follows ambition to launch 100 cloud projects
Oil and gas giant BP has signaled its intention to embrace cloud in an increasingly strategic and large-scale way in 2014 and beyond.
After a series of ad hoc cloud projects and successfully shifting its core office messaging to run in the cloud, London-headquartered BP wants to “industrialize” its cloud adoption, according to group CIO Dana Deasy, scaling to the point where it could have around 100 cloud projects under way rather than the half a dozen it could point to in mid-2013.
In preparation, the $388 billion company has been undertaking a ‘cloud audit,’ identifying which applications would be a good fit for the model and which had natural constraints that make them less than suitable. As with any large, legacy IT organization, says Deasy, the challenge is figuring out how to bridge the gap between existing systems and that new frontier, and this isn't necessarily a smooth process. The energy trading side of the business, for example, is ripe for extension to the cloud, he suggests, whereas high-performance computing isn't a strong candidate for relocation.
BP’s largest cloud roll out to date has centered on office messaging services. From mid-2012, the company started moving more than 83,000 employees spread across 80 countries to a Microsoft Exchange 2010 environment running in a secure private cloud with costs billed on a pay-per-use basis. By the end of 2013, its entire email environment will be in the private cloud, comprising 168,000 mailboxes, 71,000 distribution lists and 10 million email messages sent each month.
Staff wanted an experience akin to consumer cloud email services, while the business needed a service that would be evergreen, automatically scaling with the requirements rather than relying on the historical program of software upgrades, says Deasy.
Previously, the BP “IT world” existed within four walls, he says, but over the past two years it has embraced cloud and has had to overcome some of the psychological aspects of the transition — letting go of the traditional IT environment and coming to terms with locating some of its core IT operations elsewhere. Other challenges have ranged from legal and regulatory issues to parallel running costs and the development of new security models.
With Deasy due to become group CIO at US financial services giant JPMorgan Chase in December (see Appointments), the onus of maintaining BP’s cloud momentum through the consolidation and evolution phases, as well as balancing the role of traditional IT, will pass to chief cloud architect Paul McMahon and head of strategy and planning, IT&S global operations and infrastrutcure, Paul Schuster, as well as new BP Group CIO Mike Gibbs. As Deasy comments, BP is working to establish a profile as a leader in IT, shedding any notion of a legacy IT organization — but a cautious leader that relies on proven technologies and suppliers rather than a risk-taking trailblazer.
Dana Deasy was speaking at Cloud World Forum 2013 in London.