The wait is over

Pivotal launches, promising “new era” enterprise-class PaaS

Chris Mayer

The silence is over – what is the grand plan for Cloud Foundry and Spring middleware? Paul Maritz has the answers.

After several months of speculation, Pivotal finally made its big splash yesterday, revealing its ambitions to bring “next generation” technologies to the mainstream enterprise.

At a press conference, CEO Paul Maritz outlined his the vision for the company, newly formed from cloud and Big Data projects spun out of VMware and EMC. The new melting pot “platform” Pivotal One will include open source PaaS Cloud Foundry, Spring technologies, analytics tool Cetas and Pivotal HD, the company’s boosted Hadoop distribution formed from Greenplum parts, which launched in February.

However, Maritz claims that the Pivotal stack will be infrastructure-agnostic, intimating that Pivotal One technology will run on Amazon Web Services and OpenStack as well as other private and public clouds.

“We’re building a new platform for a new era, bringing consumer-grade capabilities to the enterprise,” Maritz told those gathered in San Francisco

Concrete technical details on how the technologies would unify under one huge platform were scant, as was pricing information. Maritz mainly used the event as a sounding call to the enterprise. Given that the company was only formed four months ago, this was to be expected. Pivotal VP Scott Yara did however say that the pieces of the Pivotal puzzle would be available in “less than 6 months”.

Just prior to the announcement, Pivotal also secured its first big investor, with General Electric pumping in $105m for a 10% stake – news which will likely cause infrastructure rivals Amazon and Microsoft to sit up and take notice. The investment will see the duo “enter into a broad research and development and commercial agreement” to create new analytics services for GE’s customers.

Pivotal’s opening gambit is pretty bold, aspiring to offer Google-like services in one box. But there is plenty which needs to be clarified. How exactly will they be allowed to act as an operating layer on a competitor such as Amazon Web Services for example? Pivotal is independent from VMware and EMC, but the two still hold a 90% stake. Would vendor-lock in be avoided entirely, when the agendas of both could come to the floor?

The lack of any integration technology is another concern for Pivotal, as noted by Gartner VP Yefim Natis.

“Integration of data, applications, cloud and Web services, partners and event streams is an essential element of any such environment. Pivotal will find that its customers demand that capability,” the analyst said in a press release.

Natis added that without focus for mobile or social technologies, Pivotal cannot support “some of the most active areas of recent innovation”.

“An application infrastructure company in 2013 can hardly claim the mantle of an innovator without an investment in all four components of the Nexus of Forces.”

There’s plenty of work ahead for Pivotal One, joining together the plethora of technologies in one platform and filling the gaps, let alone persuading others of its worth. GE’s backing however shouldn’t be taken lightly, especially with Pivotal holding a valuation of $1bn before it has even launched a product.

Image courtesy of Dell’s Official Flickr Page

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