Apr
21
2018
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Pivotal CEO talks IPO and balancing life in Dell family of companies

Pivotal has kind of a strange role for a company. On one hand its part of the EMC federation companies that Dell acquired in 2016 for a cool $67 billion, but it’s also an independently operated entity within that broader Dell family of companies — and that has to be a fine line to walk.

Whatever the challenges, the company went public yesterday and joined VMware as a  separately traded company within Dell. CEO Rob Mee says the company took the step of IPOing because it wanted additional capital.

“I think we can definitely use the capital to invest in marketing and R&D. The wider technology ecosystem is moving quickly. It does take additional investment to keep up,” Mee told TechCrunch just a few hours after his company rang the bell at the New York Stock Exchange.

As for that relationship of being a Dell company, he said that Michael Dell let him know early on after the EMC acquisition that he understood the company’s position. “From the time Dell acquired EMC, Michael was clear with me: You run the company. I’m just here to help. Dell is our largest shareholder, but we run independently. There have been opportunities to test that [since the acquisition] and it has held true,” Mee said.

Mee says that independence is essential because Pivotal has to remain technology-agnostic and it can’t favor Dell products and services over that mission. “It’s necessary because our core product is a cloud-agnostic platform. Our core value proposition is independence from any provider — and Dell and VMware are infrastructure providers,” he said.

That said, Mee also can play both sides because he can build products and services that do align with Dell and VMware offerings. “Certainly the companies inside the Dell family are customers of ours. Michael Dell has encouraged the IT group to adopt our methods and they are doing so,” he said. They have also started working more closely with VMware, announcing a container partnership last year.

Photo: Ron Miller

Overall though he sees his company’s mission in much broader terms, doing nothing less than helping the world’s largest companies transform their organizations. “Our mission is to transform how the world builds software. We are focused on the largest organizations in the world. What is a tailwind for us is that the reality is these large companies are at a tipping point of adopting how they digitize and develop software for strategic advantage,” Mee said.

The stock closed up 5 percent last night, but Mee says this isn’t about a single day. “We do very much focus on the long term. We have been executing to a quarterly cadence and have behaved like a public company inside Pivotal [even before the IPO]. We know how to do that while keeping an eye on the long term,” he said.

Apr
20
2018
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Kubernetes and Cloud Foundry grow closer

Containers are eating the software world — and Kubernetes is the king of containers. So if you are working on any major software project, especially in the enterprise, you will run into it sooner or later. Cloud Foundry, which hosted its semi-annual developer conference in Boston this week, is an interesting example for this.

Outside of the world of enterprise developers, Cloud Foundry remains a bit of an unknown entity, despite having users in at least half of the Fortune 500 companies (though in the startup world, it has almost no traction). If you are unfamiliar with Cloud Foundry, you can think of it as somewhat similar to Heroku, but as an open-source project with a large commercial ecosystem and the ability to run it at scale on any cloud or on-premises installation. Developers write their code (following the twelve-factor methodology), define what it needs to run and Cloud Foundry handles all of the underlying infrastructure and — if necessary — scaling. Ideally, that frees up the developer from having to think about where their applications will run and lets them work more efficiently.

To enable all of this, the Cloud Foundry Foundation made a very early bet on containers, even before Docker was a thing. Since Kubernetes wasn’t around at the time, the various companies involved in Cloud Foundry came together to build their own container orchestration system, which still underpins much of the service today. As it took off, though, the pressure to bring support for Kubernetes grew inside of the Cloud Foundry ecosystem. Last year, the Foundation announced its first major move in this direction by launching its Kubernetes-based Container Runtime for managing containers, which sits next to the existing Application Runtime. With this, developers can use Cloud Foundry to run and manage their new (and existing) monolithic apps and run them in parallel with the new services they develop.

But remember how Cloud Foundry also still uses its own container service for the Application Runtime? There is really no reason to do that now that Kubernetes (and the various other projects in its ecosystem) have become the default of handling containers. It’s maybe no surprise then that there is now a Cloud Foundry project that aims to rip out the old container management systems and replace them with Kubernetes. The container management piece isn’t what differentiates Cloud Foundry, after all. Instead, it’s the developer experience — and at the end of the day, the whole point of Cloud Foundry is that developers shouldn’t have to care about the internal plumbing of the infrastructure.

There is another aspect to how the Cloud Foundry ecosystem is embracing Kubernetes, too. Since Cloud Foundry is also just software, there’s nothing stopping you from running it on top of Kubernetes, too. And with that, it’s no surprise that some of the largest Cloud Foundry vendors, including SUSE and IBM, are doing exactly that.

The SUSE Cloud Application Platform, which is a certified Cloud Foundry distribution, can run on any public cloud Kubernetes infrastructure, including the Microsoft Azure Container service. As the SUSE team told me, that means it’s not just easier to deploy, but also far less resource-intensive to run.

Similarly, IBM is now offering Cloud Foundry on top of Kubernetes for its customers, though it’s only calling this an experimental product for now. IBM’s GM of Cloud Developer Services Don Boulia stressed that IBM’s customers were mostly looking for ways to run their workloads in an isolated environment that isn’t shared with other IBM customers.

Boulia also stressed that for most customers, it’s not about Kubernetes versus Cloud Foundry. For most of his customers, using Kubernetes by itself is very much about moving their existing applications to the cloud. And for new applications, those customers are then opting to run Cloud Foundry.

That’s something the SUSE team also stressed. One pattern SUSE has seen is that potential customers come to it with the idea of setting up a container environment and then, over the course of the conversation, decide to implement Cloud Foundry as well.

Indeed, the message of this week’s event was very much that Kubernetes and Cloud Foundry are complementary technologies. That’s something Chen Goldberg, Google’s Director of Engineering for Container Engine and Kubernetes, also stressed during a panel discussion at the event.

Both the Cloud Foundry Foundation and the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), the home of Kubernetes, are under the umbrella of the Linux Foundation. They take somewhat different approaches to their communities, with Cloud Foundry stressing enterprise users far more than the CNCF. There are probably some politics at play here, but for the most part, the two organizations seem friendly enough — and they do share a number of members. “We are part of CNCF and part of Cloud Foundry foundation,” Pivotal CEO Rob Mee told our own Ron Miller. “Those communities are increasingly sharing tech back and forth and evolving together. Not entirely independent and not competitive either. Lot of complexity and subtlety. CNCF and Cloud Foundry are part of a larger ecosystem with complimentary and converging tech.”

We’ll likely see more of this technology sharing — and maybe collaboration — between the CNCF and Cloud Foundry going forward. The CNCF is, after all, the home of a number of very interesting projects for building cloud-native applications that do have their fair share of use cases in Cloud Foundry, too.

Apr
18
2018
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Cloud Foundry Foundation looks east as Alibaba joins as a gold member

Cloud Foundry is among the most successful open source project in the enterprise right now. It’s a cloud-agnostic platform-as-a-service offering that helps businesses develop and run their software more efficiently. In many enterprises, it’s now the standard platform for writing new applications. Indeed, half of the Fortune 500 companies now use it in one form or another.

With the imminent IPO of Pivotal, which helped birth the project and still sits at the core of its ecosystem, Cloud Foundry is about to gets its first major moment in the spotlight outside of its core audience. Over the course of the last few years, though, the project and the foundation that manages it have also received the sponsorship of  companies like Cisco, IBM, SAP, SUSE, Google, Microsoft, Ford, Volkswagen and Huawei.

Today, China’s Alibaba Group is joining the Cloud Foundry Foundation as a gold member. Compared to AWS, Azure and Google Cloud, the Alibaba Cloud gets relatively little press, but it’s among the largest clouds in the world. Starting today, Cloud Foundry is also available on the Alibaba Cloud, with support for both the Cloud Foundry application and container runtimes.

Cloud Foundry CTO Chip Childers told me that he expects Alibaba to become an active participant in the open source community. He also noted that Cloud Foundry is seeing quite a bit of growth in China — a sentiment that I’ve seen echoed by other large open source projects, including the likes of OpenStack.

Open source is being heavily adopted in China and many companies are now trying to figure out how to best contribute to these kind of projects. Joining a foundation is an obvious first step. Childers also noted that many traditional enterprises in China are now starting down the path of digital transformation, which is driving the adoption of both open source tools and cloud in general.

Apr
18
2018
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Cloud.gov makes Cloud Foundry easier to adopt for government agencies

At the Cloud Foundry Summit in Boston, the team behind the U.S. government’s cloud.gov application platform announced that it is now a certified Cloud Foundry platform that is guaranteed to be compatible with other certified providers, like Huawei, IBM, Pivotal, SAP and — also starting today — SUSE. With this, cloud.gov becomes the first government agency to become Cloud Foundry-certified.

The point behind the certification is to ensure that all of the various platforms that support Cloud Foundry are compatible with each other. In the government context, this means that agencies can easily move their workloads between clouds (assuming they have all the necessary government certifications in place). But what’s maybe even more important is that it also ensures skills portability, which should make hiring and finding contractors easier for these agencies. Given that the open source Cloud Foundry project has seen quite a bit of adoption in the private sector, with half of the Fortune 500 companies using it, that’s often an important factor for deciding which platform to build on.

From the outset, cloud.gov, which was launched by the General Services Administration’s 18F office to improve the U.S. government’s public-facing websites and applications, was built on top of Cloud Foundry. Similar agencies in Australia and the U.K. have made the same decision to standardize on the Cloud Foundry platform. Cloud Foundry launched its certification program a few years ago; last year it added another program for certifying the skills of individual developers.

To be able to run government workloads, a cloud platform has to offer a certain set of security requirements. As Cloud Foundry Foundation CTO Chip Childers told me, the work 18F did to get the FedRAMP authorization for cloud.gov helped bring better controls to the upstream project, too, and he stressed that all of the governments that have adopted the platform have contributed to the overall project.

Dec
05
2017
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Pivotal has something for everyone in the latest Cloud Foundry Platform release

 Pivotal wants to be the development platform that serves everyone, and today at their SpringOne Platform (S1P) developer conference in San Francisco, they announced a huge upgrade to their Pivotal Cloud Foundry platform (PCF) that includes support for serverless computing, containers and a new app store. As James Watters, senior VP of strategy sees it, this is all part of a deliberate strategy… Read More

Oct
11
2017
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Cloud Foundry adds native Kubernetes support for running containers

 Cloud Foundry, the open-source platform as a service (PaaS) offering, has become somewhat of a de facto standard in the enterprise for building and managing applications in the cloud or in their own data centers. The project, which is supported by the Linux Foundation, is announcing a number of updates at its annual European user conference this week. Read More

Jun
13
2017
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Microsoft joins the open source Cloud Foundry Foundation

 Microsoft today announced that it is joining the Cloud Foundry Foundation, the non-profit behind the open source Cloud Foundry platform-as-a-service project that’s currently in use by about half of the Fortune 500 companies. Microsoft is joining at the Gold Member tier where it joins the likes of Google (which joined last December and also hired the foundation’s former… Read More

Mar
28
2017
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Cloud Foundry launches its developer certification program

a foundry for clouds Cloud Foundry, a massive open source project that allows enterprises to host their own platform-as-a-service for running cloud applications in their own data center or in a public cloud, today announced the launch of its “Cloud Foundry Certified Developer” program. The Cloud Foundry Foundation calls this “the world’s largest cloud-native developer certification… Read More

Sep
19
2016
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Cloud Foundry launches its new Docker-compatible container management system

steel foundry in Redcar clouds billowing Cloud Foundry, the Pivotal- and VMware-incubated open source platform-as-a-service project, is going all in on its new Diego container management system. For a while now, the project used what it called Droplet Execution Agents (DEA) to manage application containers. After running in parallel for a while, though, the team has now decided to go all in on its new so-called “Diego&#8221… Read More

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