The next big thing in IT? Microservices! Landmark and DELL/EMC, with backing from majors and service companies, to port monolithic legacy apps to the cloud in OpenEarth Community effort.

Early examples of software migration from on-premises deployment to the cloud simply moved an application along with its operating system off site. The move to the cloud eliminated the need for high-end local hardware but there was no qualitative difference in application functionality. Pre-existing issues, notably interoperability between different applications, were not addressed.

The IT world has been pecking away at this situation for a couple of years now with the concept of microservices. These are small software components, tuned for the web, that do interoperate and that benefit from modern deployment technologies such as virtual machines, Docker and that may even run sans OS on ‘bare metal’ hardware (see Nimbix, page 4).

The OpenEarth Community (OEC), a joint industry initiative led by Halliburton-Landmark with support from a number of majors and service companies, is to go live in 2017, with the objective of building an open source stack leveraging a microservices-style architecture and maybe to wean the upstream from its legacy monolithic software.

Dell EMC is collaborating actively on the initiative and already has a ‘fully engineered and validated’ platform for Landmark’s DecisionSpace. Dell is also promoting its Pivotal cloud foundry and ‘native hybrid cloud’ as key components of the OEC.

Since the OEC was first announced at the Life 2016 event, Landmark has been working on the DevOps and collaboration environment that will support the initiative. OEC founder members include Anadarko, Baker Hughes, CGG, Devon Energy, IHS Markit, Shell, Statoil and Total.

The major oil and gas software houses are racing to embrace the cloud/microservices paradigm - Schlumberger with Mere, GE/Predix, Siemens/MindSphere, Yokogawa/Industrial Knowledge and Rockwell/Azure IoT Suite. One is tempted to question how such platforms will interoperate with each other. An opening here for the standards folks perhaps?

For the upstream, initial targets for microservices decomposition will be ‘embarrassingly parallel’ workloads (q.v. Nimbix again)which can be broken into small chunks that run in the cloud. You may still be wondering how one goes from a monolithic application to microservices. A recent IBM Redbook explains in detail how this can be achieved, with a quaintly named ‘strangler’ application that captures and intercepts calls to legacy applications, routes them to other handlers, and gradually replaces them altogether.

For more, visit the OEC website and read our exclusive interview with Landmark CTO Mike Jones and Dell/EMC CTO Energy, David Holmes on page 3 of this issue.

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