At Siemens, Cloud Foundry Leads to Developer Productivity & Culture Change

April 6, 2020

The German technology giant Siemens has developed an Internet of Things (IoT) operating system called MindSphere that runs on Cloud Foundry.

MindSphere is an open operating system that serves as an end-to-end industrial solution. It incorporates advanced analytics in a secure, scalable environment to collect and transmit data from IoT sensors from machines and industrial facilities.

Data Growth Brings Many Challenges

Siemens and its customers are well-aware of the current, ongoing inundative growth of data. To wit, the Internet now transmits more than one zettabyte (one million petabytes) of data worldwide per year.

The amount of data continues to expand dramatically, doubling every three years or so according to numerous sources, with IoT deployments playing a major role in this growth.

But the presence of a lot of data is not the only challenge Siemens and its customers face. 

“In the era of digitalization, zero downtime is the expectation.”

To meet this expectation, the Siemens team analyzes IoT data from a wide variety of sources to identify potential problems before they occur. Moreover, “ongoing change in application landscapes has never been more frequent than today,” said Siemens Director of Location Management Michael Englert. 

“Cloud Foundry has been a key enabler for us. Understanding how your services work together while you constantly change them is crucial to get the most out of your application for your business.”

The Cultural Challenge

The use of Cloud Foundry represents a culture change in most companies that are using it, including this one. Thus, MindSphere’s evolving deployments and capabilities naturally present a significant challenge to internal development and operations teams at Siemens, too.

Along these lines, Siemens Engineer Stefan Burger notes that “deep in our minds there’s a separation between systems teams and apps teams, and simply to put them onto Cloud Foundry might not be the best idea.”

So he and other team managers have focused on specific tasks, such as testing new functions, upgrading foundations and keeping them running, patching, and creating stem cells in a newly collaborative environment.

“What we’ve learned is getting people who are really interested [in a new approach] together as a team. As we build a foundation of trust, we see the change it creates in people’s minds.”

Get Ops Out of the Way

Topics such as container networking are part of the ongoing cultural evolutions at Siemens. 

“We are always interested in getting new ideas and seeing what’s going on within the ecosystem that would be useful for developers,” according to Stefan. “They should have ideas about the product and don’t have to care about the platform. Now they have to walk on their own feet and take responsibility for their apps and the security for their apps.”

“Developer productivity is important, so we work to create a foundation they can use, and processes they can use. They shouldn’t have to ask us for these things. We want them to just focus on apps.”

To Siemens, then, the most important thing about Cloud Foundry is not the technology itself.. Team members agree that Cloud Foundry is a great product, but as they explain it, the key is understanding that they need to move operational challenges out of the developers’ way, Stefan concludes.

“Achieving this change in mindset is the real benefit of using Cloud Foundry.”

Readers who are interested in learning more about how Siemens is developing MindSphere with Cloud Foundry can visit this developer site.

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Caitlyn O'Connell, AUTHOR

As Senior Marketing Manager of Cloud Foundry Foundation, Caitlyn runs content and manages diversity programming.