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Here's how one enterprise is using Google's cloud, along with many other providers

Land O'Lakes picked Google to run the backend when it decided to launch a new application that connects a bunch of different cloud services to one another for the sake of improving farmers' decisions.

It's something of a surprising choice for the decades-old company. Much of the company is built on Microsoft technology, said Teddy Bekele, the vice president of IT for Land O'Lakes's WinField division. While Microsoft's Azure cloud platform was in the running to host the new WinField Data Silo tool, Microsoft ended up losing out to Google Cloud Platform (GCP).

It's a major win for Google, which has been trying to entice more large companies over to its cloud platform. And Land O'Lakes's decision is emblematic of the way that companies -- especially those with decades of technology history -- are approaching the public cloud. 

Rather than going all in on one provider, companies are looking for a diverse set of platforms on which they can build their business. Land O'Lakes has workloads running on Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, and its own on-premises data center, Bekele said.

The agriculture conglomerate has built its Data Silo application on top of GCP with the help of consulting firm Cloud Technology Partners. The application is designed to use information from a variety of sources, including third-party data providers like John Deere and Monsanto, along with farmers' own data. Farmers then get recommendations, like which crop they should grow in a particular field.  

The company chose Google for the WinField Data Silo in part because of its deep Maps API integration, which will overlay data from the application onto a map to make it easier for users to digest the information. For this application, WinField looked at Google, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Box, before deciding to go with GCP.

If Google's solution ever becomes unsuitable for Land O'Lakes's purposes, the company has built the WinField Data Silo to be capable of moving to competing cloud platforms, along with its other applications, Bekele said.

However, that doesn't mean he's unhappy with the way things are going now. If other people inside Land O'Lakes asked him if they should use Google Cloud Platform, he says he'd absolutely recommend the provider if he believed Google's capabilities were well-suited to the application. 

Looking forward, Bekele is taking a pragmatic approach to figuring out which cloud provider will power Data Silo. 

"I mean, even now, for us, going forward, we definitely plan on staying on GCP for the moment," Bekele said. "But if there are other capabilities [we need] as we start rolling this out to customers, and some other needs come up that are kind of critical, we might consider something else instead."

That said, he's also interested in some of the intelligent functionality built into Google's cloud for future development. 

IDG Insider

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