Sweet deal

Why CloudBees’ Java focus sealed the deal on Verizon Cloud partnership

JAX Editorial Team
honey-cloud

CloudBees CEO Sacha Labourey explains more this new venture, and tells JAX how the cloud is amping up Java’s cool factor.

Today, CloudBees and Verizon announced the
formation of a new venture which will extend CloudBees PaaS to the
new Verizon Cloud
part of an ongoing effort to add enterprise-class services to the
technology. JAXenter spoke to CloudBees CEO Sacha
Labourey
to find out  more about the motivation behind
this project, why Verizon doesn’t want to create its own PaaS
offering, and what cloud means for the Java community:

JAX: Can you tell us more about this
venture?

Labourey: On our side,
we’re offering a platform as a service [PaaS], as you know, but
also, we’re offering more than that – we cover the complete
application life cycle. The reason that there is an interest in
CloudBees providing this PaaS to Verizon customers – the idea that
if you are a Verizon customer, you can leverage the Verizon Cloud
(currently in Beta) into the infrastructure as a service [IaaS].
That ups your server storage, network topology and so on, and if
you want, you can also create a PaaS within the Verizon cloud
environment, and be able to quickly develop and deploy applications
on top of the Verizon infrastructure.

The offering is being worked on as we speak, and the
release should happen shortly after Verizon goes GA.

What do you think were the biggest attractions
for either side? Do you think your Java focus was a key
factor?

In our discussions with different cloud providers,
we’ve seen how diverse companies work, with different focus on
cloud. Verizon’s a huge company – they just closed the acquisition
of Vodafone – so you know, it’s big. And, I have to say that I’m
impressed by the technical leadership and business leadership I’ve
seen within the Verizon cloud team. I can see that this is not just
a temporary illusion – they understand the strategic importance and
value of cloud to Verizon, and they’re putting a lot of weight
behind it.  Their partnership with Oracle demonstrates not
just how much of a reach Verizon has, but also how much drive there
is behind that cloud effort.

I think that some of the criteria that’s made Verizon
want to work with CloudBees is that first, we’re Java experts. This
is something they understand is important to their audience. We’re
truly a service – we’re not a software, we’re a service – and I
don’t think Verizon necessarily wants to change focus and start
being a PaaS builder on their own. They do see value in benefiting
from an already built service that they can extenuate within their
environment.

And last but not least, I think our DNA is
interesting. I think we understand what developers want, so we hear
them, but at the same time, we also understand how enterprises
operate. I think both of those were important to Verizon.

They understand that today they are mostly
talking to IT operations sides, CIO, not necessarily having a
strong relationship with developers, just because they haven’t ever
sold to that audience. We can bring that to the table, but at the
same time, we’re not just bringing some crazy developer platform
with no care for what enterprises care about, and we understand
that as well. So that was, I think, reassuring for
Verizon.

What sort of business will you be targeting
together with Verizon?

As we know, a number of number of enterprises all over
the world understand the value proposal of the cloud, yet still
have trouble dealing with new types of company like Amazon. I think
there is really a big opportunity for Verizon to go after that
enterprise market, and it’s maybe the market that we have more
difficulty in monetizing at CloudBees, being a relatively small
company compared to Verizon. Those companies are looking for
vendors that are of bigger size – so for us, it’s really a great
opportunity.

Verizon Cloud already has several cloud
partnerships in place – what will differentiate the agreement with
CloudBees between the ones it has with, for example, Oracle?
 

I haven’t worked on those partnerships, so I don’t
know the details. What I can say is that Verizon is very interested
in building a very serious ecosystem for cloud, and they’ve proved
through those relationships that they are able to make a business
relationship with those highly credible vendors…I think it’s
really their strategy to build up this ecosystem.

Very few vendors have this relationship with Oracle and
SAP and so on in the cloud, and so it’s a really great relationship
in itself. It’s a great achievement in itself – I don’t see these
other partnerships as being competitive to us, I think they’re very
complimentary.

Today, our customers are using databases, they are
using Oracle, some of our customers are using applications that
hook into SAP. There is clearly  a high level of complimentary
potential in these systems.

What will be the biggest benefits to CloudBees
business from working with Verizon?

I really think it’s going to help two things. First,
some of our existing customers would be interested in looking at
ways to leverage Verizon. Verizon is making some strong commitments
in terms of security and so on – so that interests a number of our
existing customers.

And then there are just a number of companies that
don’t feel comfortable yet going to market with CloudBees that
would definitely be more open to move forward with a company like
Verizon on board. So we definitely think this is going to expand
our market.

Also, we’re at a very young age for cloud, so I’m not
too worried about competitive dynamics and such. The market as it
is today, you know, if anything could have more vendors. This
market is going to expand, and so it’s not surprising to see those
different efforts going on right now.

Is this part of an overarching strategy to
expand the CloudBees ecosystem too?

Yes, it’s definitely something we’re looking at. We
have already our direct go-to-market that’s running today on top of
AWS, and we think that Verizon is a great way for us to access
different types of customers in different regions. And so we’re
having discussions with other vendors that can be complementary to
this partnership.

But our goal is not to go and partner with 2000
companies around the world. It has to bring something new to the
market, and it has to provide some differentiation. We see it with
Verizon – and with others, we see less than that. To pick a handful
of high quality partners is definitely something we are interested
in.

Will the CloudBees cloud offerings be part of
the Verizon cloud?

I think initially we’re really talking about RUN@cloud. This is the key
component, and what’s understood by most people as being PaaS. When
people hear PaaS they understand deployment of applications – so
that’s going to be the point of focus initially.

But we’re open to expanding that scope, especially as
a lot of companies are warming up more to the idea of continuous
delivery. I was in Munich two weeks ago, and was surprised how some
massive organisations are thinking in terms of Continuous Delivery,
and realise that today they are being too slow at pushing value
from the initial ID to the actual delivery of the product.

To me, that has already been clear from a technical
perspective, but what wasn’t clear until recently is how big and
how real this is at a business level as well, and how some
companies do understand that this is a problem at a business
level.

Some companies have the tools to implement continuous
delivery within their working environments, but what we see is
that, for most companies, this is a change that’s going to take a
long time.

For some of those companies, the way to do that is to
start bringing continuous delivery [CD] within the organisation.
Maybe it’s on a ten year time scale, but for some specific
projects, start delivering business in a steady manner, using the
cloud as a mechanism, because the cloud can be a good way to start
implementing this outside of IT without disturbing IT and what’s
working, and benefitting from CD on the side while they do these
changes internally.

CloudBees works very closely with the Java
community, and Sascha, you were once quoted as saying that you want
to make Java developers “cool” again. What does this entail for
people working in this ecosystem?

We think we’ve helped to make them cool again, at
least, they can be cool again if they want! Before, a lot
of the agile techniques and CD techniques were mostly only possible
with other languages. There were very few build chains that were
proposed out of the box where Java devs could get that
freedom. Thanks to the cloud, thanks to PaaS vendors –
including CloudBees, but not just us – tools like Jenkins and so on
too, we’ve really helped create a pipeline that makes Java devs
more efficient.

What’s also great now is that a lot of Java devs are more
religious about the ‘Java philosophy’ and the JVM than they are
about the Java language itself. They like the way you package
software, they like the way the JVM works and so on, but languages
come and go, and even though a big deal of JVM development still
takes place in Java, I’m very happy and proud of the innovation
that’s taking place in the JVM ecosystem. You can see things like
Vert.x, Scala, Play, and so on. I think all of that is helping
it.

At CloudBees we still consider Java to be our key
priority, and I think it was very important for Verizon to pick a
vendor that knew that community very well, because a lot of
enterprises are very much focused on Java and the JVM.

Image by Sheldon Wood

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