Unleashing the power and control of industry-specific cloud platforms

Where Red Hat OpenShift fits in the ICP space

Sponsored Feature General-purpose cloud platforms are giving way to next-gen systems that are carefully and intentionally connected to their enterprise use cases.

Public clouds are not always the best option for addressing the specific needs of vertical segments, leaving some organizations to look at creating a more agile path to manage their workloads and keep up with changes in their business, data workloads, compliance and regulatory requirements.

According to a well-known IT research company Gartner, the future belongs to vertically focused industry cloud platforms (ICPs) – specialized sets of digital tools which are purpose-built and designed for the unique needs of an industry. Some examples of vertically focused ICPs include AWS Healthcare Accelerator, Google Cloud for Healthcare, Microsoft Dynamics 365, Salesforce Financial Services Cloud and Shopify. Gartner further predicts that more than 70 percent of organizations globally will be running ICPs by 2027. It also projects that the total market for industry-specific cloud platforms will grow to be worth $266.4 billion by 2025, compared to $82.5 billion in 2020.

For pre-built health care modules, finance-ready compliance tools and retail-optimized e-commerce solutions, capabilities can now be delivered with agility, scalability and security from the cloud. And none of this has to be created from scratch by a corporate Platform Engineering team, freeing up resources to focus on delivering better services to stakeholders.

Gartner also describes ICPs as "addressing industry-relevant business outcomes by combining underlying SaaS, PaaS and IaaS services into a whole-product offering with composable capabilities. These typically include an industry-aware data fabric, a library of planning and budgeting cloud services (PBCSs), composition tools and other platform innovations. IT leaders can use the composability of these platforms to gain the adaptability and agility their industries need to respond to accelerating disruption."

"Composability and modularity are important enablers of such agility. This is why we named the trend 'industry cloud platforms' rather than 'industry clouds,'" the Gartner researchers added.

Composability, modularity enable ICP agility

Vertically focused ICPs go beyond the standard infrastructure and platform services offered by conventional cloud-service providers like AWS, Google Cloud Platform, Oracle Cloud Platform and Microsoft Azure. And sAs you might expect, they also have higher cost structures. But if you want more from a product, you must expect a higher value rate from the vendor.

"A key (differentiating) factor is that these ICPs are made up of reusable, composable components that are interoperable – via APIs (application programming interfaces)," Red Hat OpenShift platform Cloud Services Advocoate Paul Whiten told . "It's an ecosystem built on top of public cloud infrastructure or private cloud infrastructure, but it's always a changing ecosystem. Ideally, if you don't like this component or that supply chain management solution, for example, you can drop it and put in another one."

That flexibility also means you don't need to be a technical wizard when it comes to the underlying cloud infrastructure – whether AWS, Oracle or Google for example- because it's completely abstracted out. And if you're using Red Hat OpenShift, what that means is there is an inbuilt level of workload portability, points out Whiten.

ICPs are tailor-made for hybrid and multiple hybrid cloud systems because they work as control planes for numerous apps, APIs and services. It matters little what those services are, where they're located or where the data is; the ICP as traffic cop manages the entire gamut of components required whether they are located on-premise in a private cloud or a public cloud. Being built on top of Kubernetes (the open source project for container orchestration) Red Hat OpenShift is designed for organizations with ICPs that are looking to adopt a cloud-native development approach, says the company.

What separates ICPs from the pack

Here's what else distinguishes ICPs from garden-variety public clouds and puts them in the "trending" category with the researchers:

Specificity for use cases: ICPs cater to the unique challenges and opportunities of a specific industry. They pre-configure features, tools and workflows aligned with industry regulations, compliance requirements and best practices. These features can be easily customized as use cases change. Think of them as ready made buildingblocks specifically designed for a particular construction project.

All-encompassing nature: ICPs offer a broader range of services than just generic cloud infrastructure. They typically include the following:

- Pre-built industry-specific applications: These solve common problems faced by businesses in a specific industry, saving time and resources on development.

- Data and analytics tools: ICPs often come with industry-specific data models and analytics dashboards, enabling businesses to extract insights from their data more effectively.

- API and integration capabilities: These allow businesses to connect their existing systems and applications with the ICP, facilitating a clean transition to the cloud.

- Security and compliance: ICPs are aimed to meet the strict security and compliance requirements of specific industries, reducing risks and costs for businesses.

What OpenShift brings to the party

Red Hat OpenShift is an enterprise application platform which serves as a foundational layer of an ICP, replete with all the apps, APIs and services running on its Kubernetes distribution needed for centralized control and security. Essentially, it enables enterprises to build hybrid clouds which can provide the foundation for an ICP.

"OpenShift has a lot of components," Red Hat's Whiten said. "It's got logging and monitoring built in as well as CI/CD, developer tooling and service mesh for example."

"But if you don't like those, you can take them out and plug in something else – it's all APIs. And in fact, I may get into trouble for saying this, but I don't know a customer who's using 100 percent of OpenShift and only OpenShift components. For example customers will bring in their own container registry, source control or leverage Azure Monitor or AWS CloudWatch."

You can add in a database like Cosmos (NoSQL) from Azure, for instance. "You can add AI goodness from AWS Sagemaker (ML service)," Whiten said. "What makes OpenShift so powerful is we've got an opinionated set of tooling to get you started fast. But once you've already got processes in place, or as you mature, you can unplug components that are no longer needed and we provide the glue to build, deploy, run your applications in a better way."

OpenShift is offered in multiple versions, including a self-managed version and as managed service through the AWS and Azure consoles. Red Hat also provides extensive support and training for OpenShift users and has an extensive ISV partner ecosystem that can run on the Red Hat platform.

Getting started fast is a big attraction for organizations - the OpenShift managed service offering can be production ready in a matter of hours according to Whiten: "So if you work with our technical specialists, you could provision an enterprise grade cluster ready to deploy production workloads in the time taken to conduct this interview.

How OpenShift fits into the ICP picture

Red Hat says it doesn't really compete directly in the ICP space, despite having specialist sales teams, such as for the public sector, for finance, for telco and so forth. Rather it almost sits on the layer above the cloud providers, at the specific workloads and components level that would make up an ICP. "The definition is very loose; customers may build and buy their own or make some combinations," explains Whiten. "So where our value is, is that application platform layer, ie OpenShift, which abstracts out the cloud providers and doesn't lock you into a specific cloud."

Key examples of Red Hat's OpenShift ICP contributions can be found in AT&T's Network Cloud infrastructure, enabling faster delivery of new network services; Siemens MindSphere, an industrial IoT platform that uses OpenShift to provide secure and scalable data management for connected devices; and ING Bank. which utilizes the platform to develop and deploy microservices-based applications, improving agility and responsiveness.

Overall, Red Hat's focus on open hybrid cloud, open source collaboration, cloud-native architectures, Kubernetes expertise and a strong partner ecosystem make it a valuable contributor to the ICP landscape.

Interested to learn more about how Red Hat can help you navigate the ICP landscape or incorporate ICP capabilities into your environment? Get in touch to book a complimentary discovery session by clicking here.

Sponsored by Red Hat.

More about

More about

More about


Send us news