How Cloud Foundry is helping Kaiser Permanente build “systems of engagement”

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Cloud Foundry SummitDevelopers and cloud architects from around the world gathered in Silicon Valley last week for the Cloud Foundry Summit to celebrate and build on the platform’s success. The open source platform as a service, which serves as the backbone for IBM Bluemix, is in its fifth year, and the Cloud Foundry Foundation that supports the community continues to thrive after its founding in 2014.

Sam Gambarin, director of the Cloud Services group at Kaiser Permanente, joined Angel Diaz, IBM Vice President of Cloud Architecture and Technology, on stage to discuss the importance of making the cloud more open.

Kaiser Permanente’s move to Cloud Foundry and IBM Bluemix

Gambarin discussed how his organization selected IBM Bluemix and Cloud Foundry to drive innovation for consumers, patients, partners and employees. When Gambarin’s team looked across its IT ecosystem, it decided the business needed more consistency in their systems of engagement.

“For us, when you’re talking about systems of engagement, you’re talking about [patients] … physicians, nurses and supporting staff,” he said.

As an example, Gambarin pointed to the various pieces of equipment in patient rooms that engage with patients and providers alike. The team wanted to find a way to essentially connect and monitor all of that equipment in a consistent manner.

“We wanted to shorten time to market,” Gambarin said. We wanted to provide our developers with a standardized central platform. Also, we wanted to optimize our existing systems of records.”

To achieve this, Gambarin’s group used a hybrid cloud solution: an internal data center and an external cloud provider with IBM Cloud, plus multiple software-as-a-service providers.

“We said, ‘We need to unify this.’ We want to have consistency across these layers,” Gambarin said. “We want to be able shift workloads between something that lives on an IBM SoftLayer data center and our own data centers on our private cloud.”

Kaiser Permanente established the following architecture in September 2015:

“For us, it made sense to standardize on IBM Bluemix platform as a service,” Gambarin said.

Reasons and results

Gambarin listed these reasons why Bluemix was the right choice:

  • IBM Bluemix is based on Cloud Foundry and allows for easy integration with Docker, OpenStack and open technologies
  • Rapid application delivery that removes barriers
  • Cost advantage that allows businesses to pay for actual usage
  • A rich library of services, including IBM Watson capabilities and third-party add-ons
  • DevOps support
  • Making use of existing developers’ skillsets

Among the workloads Kaiser Permanente has been able to add through this process is an improvement on a cumbersome application that enables healthcare providers to screen the various instruments in patient rooms and helps those devices to communicate with each other. Gambarin said the build-out process took three to four weeks.

“This application has been deployed today on the Bluemix dedicated platform on top of a SoftLayer data center, and this application is actually being used today,” he said

This year, Kaiser Permanente will continue to build its workforce applications on top of IBM Bluemix. Gambarin also said the group will look to stand up Bluemix in a local environment in the immediate future, and will eventually use Bluemix to create systems of engagement and applications for consumers.

A history worth celebrating

In his keynote, Angel Diaz, IBM vice president of Cloud Architecture and Technology, also paid homage to Cloud Foundry’s past.

“When you think about where this all started,” Diaz told the crowd of more than 1,500, “it was a small band of disruptors—people that were building out the DNA of an open governance system.”

“It became a platform for the people,” Diaz said, “a platform for innovation.”

The organization has grown to include more than 60 member companies with six dojo locations that have graduated more than 40 developers. Dedicated, full-time committers have increased to 100, and self-organized user and developer groups have been established in 105 cities in 48 countries across six continents. The shared development costs across member organizations has reached an estimated $455 million.

Sign up for a free 30-day trial of Bluemix.

IBM Cloud

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