When Warren Johnson founded Johnson Controls in 1885, his goal was to build smarter, healthier, more sustainable buildings—long before carbon footprints and climate became mainstream concerns. This vision has guided Johnson Controls and its business strategy ever since—helping to reduce the Empire State Building’s energy use by nearly 40%, and providing NASA with climate controls to prevent rain clouds in its Cape Canaveral vehicle-assembly building.

Today, Johnson Controls offers the world’s largest portfolio of building technologies. From HVAC components like air handling units and chillers to machine learning software that optimizes the flow of people and data, its solutions make spaces healthier, safer, and more efficient for their occupants.

The company is now drawing on new technologies like artificial intelligence to make buildings more intelligent and energy-efficient than ever. To drive this continuous innovation, Johnson Controls built a multi-cloud strategy utilizing Portworx® as the Kubernetes storage platform, earning it this year’s Cloud Champion distinction in the Pure Storage Breakthrough Awards.    

Elevating Building Data for the Cloud Era 

Johnson Controls is on a digital transformation journey with the goal of bringing customers into a new era of autonomous buildings. Via OpenBlue, its comprehensive suite of connected building technologies, the company is redefining the blueprint for building design in every industry—from education, to healthcare, to manufacturing. 

Portworx is the underlying Kubernetes storage platform for Johnson Controls’ application development in the cloud, as well as its data recovery. Both are integral to the success of OpenBlue. The business can now roll out new services more quickly than ever while providing high availability of its mission-critical data across the organization.

“Modern buildings are more than a collection of materials and HVAC systems. They’re smart environments that evolve each day,” says Suresh Mothikuru, Vice President of Technology, Platform Engineering, and Reliability Engineering. “The faster we get new services out to our customers, the more intelligent and efficient their built environments become.”

Continuous Innovation Powered by Kubernetes 

OpenBlue powers more than 20 of Johnson Controls’ advanced building services, from data-driven fire protection and HVAC systems to cybersecurity defenses. Customers benefit from unique technology features like touchless data access, adaptable building environments, and sophisticated ventilation and sanitation systems. 

As Mothikuru explains, Johnson Controls had built up a large footprint of technology stacks before working with Portworx, making it difficult to gain observability across its operations or track the performance of different services. That all changed when the company adopted a multi-cloud Kubernetes-based approach to application development in the cloud, powered by Portworx. 

Portworx has helped the business to set up a centralized capability to manage the data storage, backup, and disaster recovery operations within its cloud software team, bringing consistency to the way they track and manage new services and applications deployments, including OpenBlue.  

Portworx also fuels the continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) model Johnson Controls uses to accelerate cloud deployments by allowing all stateful workloads to be moved to Kubernetes-based deployments. Working closely with Johnson Controls’ engineers, Mothikuru and his team have standardized the business’ Kubernetes storage layer on Portworx, bringing consistency to the way cloud applications are deployed and maintained.

“It’s essential that our entire business runs on the same scalable infrastructure so we can measure the success of every product and service using consistent metrics,” says Mothikuru. “As a cloud-agnostic Kubernetes storage solution that integrates with every major platform we use, Portworx is perfect for the job.”  

Reliable Data Built on Available Infrastructure

Johnson Controls uses Portworx for data backups across its application portfolio, including customer data and its core data workloads. The solution also allows the company to synchronously replicate data across nodes in its Kubernetes clusters, which improves recovery times. 

“If we lose our data, our customers suffer, and that’s not an option,” says Mothikuru. “Portworx allows us to back up our application data and retrieve it at a moment’s notice, which gives both our business and our customers peace of mind.”

Now, Johnson Controls can even accommodate different recovery time objectives (RTO) and recovery point objectives (RPO) to meet each customer’s needs. For instance, it can meet a 24-hour RTO by storing a customer’s data in an offsite location, or reduce recovery time by offering asynchronous synchronization directly to its data recovery site. In both cases, it uses the same tech stack and components.

“Our customers want to know their data is being backed up and that they are set up to recover from cybersecurity threats quickly,” says Mothikuru. “With Portworx, we can tick these all-important boxes while continuing to innovate and expand our data-driven services at pace.” 

Speed, innovation, reliability, and security. Congratulations to Johnson Controls for nailing the four pillars of its Kubernetes infrastructure and for winning this year’s Pure Storage Cloud Champion Award.