Atos, EMC and VMware take the wraps off Canopy

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Atos, EMC and VMware have announced a new strategic alliance that will offer packaged software, platform and infrastructure cloud services to global enterprise organisations.

Canopy, a new company headquartered in Europe and established as joint venture between the three firms will offer these services, where Atos will retain a majority interest and appoint its chief executive.

Atos will also provide the manpower, global IT infrastructure and cloud computing and integration skills to develop Canopy into a one-stop shop, according to Thierry Breton, Atos chairman and chief executive. The orchestrated services on offer will be based on the EMC and VMware portfolios.

Breton was at pains to stress however that Canopy would be based on a combination of best-of-breed, open source and Java technologies. “Our clients are afraid of the complexity of moving to the cloud,” he said. “They see a fragmented market with a lot of specialist players.

“They also want to be sure of where their data is located, but perceive a current lack of security and availability assurance. And they also want to know that hey can retain control and avoid another technology silo.”

Canopy will offer an enterprise application store featuring horizontal and industry-specific business applications that will be available using the software-as-a-service (SaaS) model.

While specific software vendors it will feature were not named, applications offered will include enterprise email, manufacturing software, including product lifecycle management (PLM), content management (ECM), data analytics, enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM).

The one supplier explicitly named – and further demonstrating Atos’s strategic direction – was Yunano, a joint venture company created last December by the systems integrator with Chinese ERP software major, Ufida.

"Some applications will be available as early as mid-2012,” Breton said. “We will then introduce others based on the conversations we have with industry vendors."

An enterprise platform-as-a-service (PaaS), also running EMC and VMware technologies, and managed by Atos, will provide a secure enterprise Java development and runtime environment. This will incorporate a standard development framework for Canopy and its clients to design, create and test new cloud applications and be available in the first of 2012.

A private cloud will exploit the new technology alliance, as well as the data centre and consulting presence of Atos in 40 countries around the world, to establish a global infrastructure as a service (IaaS) that will also be available in the second half of this year.

"The private cloud solution will provide a pre-configured, standardised, enterprise-grade cloud stack for off and on-premise deployments, enabling clients to accelerate their cloud readiness," Breton added, while adding the importance of his company’s existing cloud strategy and transformation journey design skills in supporting the new company. The company has form, setting up a cloud-based testing service last year.

Clive Longbottom, business process facilitation service director and founder of analyst Quocirca, said there have been a few approaches from places like OpenStack to try and create a common PaaS approach, as well as existing one-stop-shop vendors, like as IBM and HP, but no joint ventures with the capability to get everything from one place.

Pointing out that the likes of Amazon EC2, Microsoft Azure IBM SmartCloud and OpenStack have been around for a while, Longbottom said the key to the success of Canopy will be in not only how well its platform works, but also how well it works in a hybrid environment working with other clouds, particularly public ones.

That said, he had a long checklist of questions prospective customers should have answered before signing up with Canopy: “Business model, levels of support, standards supported, migrating existing workloads to a Canopy cloud environment, service level agreements, proof points – a rather long list that a new company, even with some heritage behind it, may find difficult to push to new customers. Although, Atos may be able to push it into existing customers if the price is right.”

Longbottom concluded: “A new company name will have to fight to carve itself a niche – and this may take too long for it to be successful in the great scheme of things. All told, I don't believe that the joint venture makes long-term business sense for EMC and VMware because it will compete directly with any VMware/EMC agreements outside of Canopy. Atos will have to subsume the Canopy brand under its greater Atos brand to have any major impact, which then negates the sense of setting up a joint venture.”

Miya Knights

A 25-year veteran enterprise technology expert, Miya Knights applies her deep understanding of technology gained through her journalism career to both her role as a consultant and as director at Retail Technology Magazine, which she helped shape over the past 17 years. Miya was educated at Oxford University, earning a master’s degree in English.

Her role as a journalist has seen her write for many of the leading technology publishers in the UK such as ITPro, TechWeekEurope, CIO UK, Computer Weekly, and also a number of national newspapers including The Times, Independent, and Financial Times.