McDonald's saw the cloud as a way to cut costs and enhance flexibility for its development teams, which standardized on the IBM Rational toolset.
Scott Farnum of McDonald's saw the opportunity to move the fast-food chain's application-development
tooling environment to the cloud, he did not hesitate.
who is global infrastructure lab manager for McDonald's Corp. and is
responsible for the company's application-development strategy, saw the cloud
as a way to cut costs and enhance flexibility for his development teams, which
have standardized on the IBM Rational toolset.
many other companies contemplating moving parts of their business to a cloud-computing
environment, Farnum and his team weighed many factors, including the
amount of downtime the company's developers have between projects.
decision to move to the cloud made sense, considering the nature of application
development with McDonald's IT department.
are several months where we do very little development, and then there are
several months where things are very busy," Farnum said. "So the challenge for
me is when I'm trying to provide an environment for my application teams to
deliver a product and they need XYZ tooling, I have to buy enough tooling to
cover everyone in that peak moment, which ends up being really costly.
outside that peak moment, we are not using those tools, and in some cases we
will slow down development accordingly," he continued. "So we needed a model
that was going to be flexible to any business condition and any development
condition. Sometimes, we have big development years, and sometimes we have big
deployment years. We needed this model to be flexible enough to handle that and
go from there."
the decision to move McDonald's application-development needs to the cloud was
set, the company tapped IBM partner CloudOne.
specializes in taking IBM's Rational toolset to the cloud, and that is
all the company does, said CloudOne CEO John McDonald, who spoke to eWEEK during IBM Innovate 2011, IBM's annual
conference for Rational users.
Rational expertise is critical for Farnum since McDonald's uses Rational legacy
tools, including ClearCase, ClearQuest and RequisitePro. The company is also evaluating
Rational's newer tools, such as Rational Software Architect, Rational
Application Developer and Rational Asset Manager.
importantly, with the CloudOne solution, McDonald's can pay only for what it
needs when it needs it.
chose Rational because McDonald's required tools that cover the entire software-development
lifecycle and have a particular focus on application-lifecycle management. He
also said an independent study by McDonald's found that the Rational toolset
was "best of breed" and had the best opportunity to go "end-to-end"-from
requirements to deployment to maintenance.
and elasticity are the key words here," said David Locke, director of worldwide
marketing strategy for the cloud at IBM Rational.
being best-in-class comes with a price. The Rational toolset is not inexpensive,
which made the cloud option even more attractive.
is a hamburger company; we don't want to be in the IT business," Farnum said. "We
want to focus on what we do best. And we are always on the lookout for firms to
come in and provide consulting services on their respective technologies to
help us do what we need to do from a business perspective."
was in a unique position in that it had begun providing consulting services to
McDonald's in a different capacity. CloudOne then offered a cloud-computing
solution to McDonald's, and Farnum jumped at the opportunity.
the time, we could not find another supplier that provided this and was able to
also provide the SAAS [software as a service] model that we needed," he said.
an implementation perspective, to prepare for the cloud, Farnum said IT
managers need to be in the most flexible mode prior to going to the cloud, such
as having primarily Web-based systems. "So, in our environment, we are
leveraging CCRC [ClearCase Remote Client] as much as possible," he said.
moving to the cloud, McDonald's has seen "huge benefits," Farnum said.
instance, the company has gotten a 50 percent improvement in the performance of
we went to CloudOne, it became easier for them to support the products if they
siloed each one onto its own server set," he said.
sped all those applications up, and made them easier to support," Farnum added.
"And we could do things like upgrade that one product for Windows 7 if we
needed to and leave the others alone. Other benefits are easier pilots. I'm not
dependent on internal infrastructure folks to spin up a box and grant me
don't have to worry about all these aspects that go into a pilot or proof-of-concept.
And, frankly, if we wanted to do a six-month pilot instead of a 30-day pilot,
we have that flexibility. We can even do a pay-as-you-go pilot if we need to,
because it's that flexible," Farnum explains.
CloudOne's McDonald said the capital cost of getting into the Rational tools is
prohibitive for many companies. The infrastructure to run the toolset and the
people to set it up, monitor it and maintain it is beyond the reach of many
example of this is a customer that has a project requiring 20 people on it, but
the company only owns 10 licenses. At this point, a company's options are
IT department and development teams either have to pony up the money for the
extra licenses, cut costs in other areas, or change tools and maybe go with an
open-source technology that is less expensive from an up-front cost level. But with
CloudOne, they have another option that lets them use what they want but only
pay for what they use, McDonald said.
we do at CloudOne is we offer up a way they can literally get into this with no
money down," McDonald said. "We lower the transom of entry to zero, and it
allows people who may not otherwise be able to use Rational tools or use as
many Rational tools as they want to to be able to do that."
Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.