Big Interview

CloudBees founder Sacha Labourey talks about the state of PaaS and AnyCloud

Chris Mayer
CloudBees

The CEO and founder of Cloudbees discusses at length their latest PaaS product set to revolutionise the cloud industry. Sacha also discusses the state of the industry at the moment – including his thoughts on the JVM.

After launching their second Java PaaS solution in the
hybrid AnyCloud,
CloudBees have been riding high amongst the clouds. We caught up
with founder and CEO Sacha Labourey to tell how important AnyCloud
is to the PaaS industry and crucially his opinion on the
JVM…

So AnyCloud’s your second product. Tell us more about
it.

In the last 2 years, our focus has been to deliver the best Java
Platform as a Service (PaaS), encompassing the entire application
lifecycle. From development to production, this answered the
What do you want to do?” question. AnyCloud
extends this platform by enabling customers to choose where they
want their applications to be deployed (at a hosting provider or
even on-premises) while keeping a unique point of control. This
answers the “Where do you want to do it?”
question. This is all about choice and flexibility.

What was the rationale behind it? To truly make the
platform a service?

A growing number of companies realise how much they can gain by
using a PaaS. This is not just about money, actually, for most of
them, it is mostly about time to market, agility and focus. Yet, a
number of those companies simply couldn’t use a PaaS for some of
their applications: in some cases, they had to deploy their
applications in a specific region (either for legal reasons or to
be close to their users), or wanted to deploy them next to some of
their existing systems (database, ERP, CRM, etc.) to benefit from a
high-bandwidth/low-latency network.

While, at first, this might seem “just” a matter of location,
this actually has some profound implications. Customers actually
faced the “choice” between either a public-cloud PaaS,
fully-integrated and provided as a service (where no
maintenance/upgrades/patching was required). Or, if they couldn’t
use such a public PaaS for one of the reasons outlined above, they
had to use a traditional hosted middleware solution, provided as a
software (that had to be setup, configured and maintained by the
customer itself. What a big gap!

The rationale behind AnyCloud was to bring the power and agility
of a service-based approach, where you have nothing to maintain or
setup, and marry it with the ability to perform such deployments
anywhere: on your own machines inside your network, as a remotely
managed vSphere appliance for example, or on some servers running
at a traditional hosting provider where some of your existing
systems already reside. This is truly unique.

How important was it to create a single point of
control?
 

This is very important. Developers care about applications,
that’s what the PaaS should really show as the top level
abstraction: applications, applications, applications. Then,
whether you want this app to run on Amazon, OVH or on your own
servers is a detail: it is up to the PaaS to abstract that
deployment attribute properly. You’ll find solutions that I’d call
Multi-clouds”, where each specific cloud instance
gets its own copy of the environment, and they hardly make sense as
they don’t empower developers, they just fragment their view of the
world. A bit like if you had to have a separate laptop for your
browser, one for your e-mail, one for your Office suite, etc. You
want a unified view, a single point of control.

Do you see the bridge between private and public clouds
finally being closed? Are enterprises finally willing to merge the
two through one PaaS solution?

Right now, time private and public environments are being mixed
as part of a service offering. And the service is exactly what
makes the cloud so valuable. So-called “private cloud” solutions,
under what actually looked just as an innocent word added,
 have actually sacrificed the notion of service. A private
PaaS is not a PaaS, it is a Platform-as-a-software: your company
become in charge of the service. This radically changes the value
proposal. With such solutions, you don’t refocus on what you do the
best, you still stay in charge of what shouldn’t be your job.

What’s innovative about AnyCloud, what separates it from
the pack?

AnyCloud is the only service-based architecture that bridges
public cloud, traditional hosting providers and on-premises
deployments. Other so-called hybrid approaches are always
software-based approaches, not service-based, having their
controller hosted on-premises. AnyCloud is exactly the
opposite.

How do you see the future for Java going? Can it
compete?

Not only will it compete, but it will grow! To be precise, I am
speaking about the JVM. I don’t care if you prefer Java, Scala or
JRuby – the JVM is what matters. World-class engineers have built a
superb JVM in the last 20 years, how can it make sense to try to
compete with a Formula 1 if what you’re trying to achieve is “just”
to implement a new language? Just use it!

Granted, some features had to be added to the JVM, but we are
getting there and the reasons not to use the JVM are getting very
weak. It only makes sense for VM models that are significantly
different, such as Erlang for example.

Any other exciting products up your sleeve?

Oh yes, stay tuned. We have something big coming up soon, just
before the summer. That way you won’t get bored on the beach!

How do you see the future for cloud
platforms?
 

A lot of cloud platforms are still too much trying to mimic what
happens on-premises, we shouldn’t be afraid to change the current
way of doing things, defocus from infrastructure, this will take
time but I truly think we are entering a new era of how software is
going to be built.

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