May
09
2018
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StubHub bets on Pivotal and Google Cloud as it looks to go beyond tickets

StubHub is best known as a destination for buying and selling event tickets. The company operates in 48 countries and sells a ticket every 1.3 seconds. But the company wants to go beyond that and provide its users with a far more comprehensive set of services around entertainment. To do that, it’s working on changing its development culture and infrastructure to become more nimble. As the company announced today, it’s betting on Google Cloud and Pivotal Cloud Foundry as the infrastructure for this move.

StubHub CTO Matt Swann told me that the idea behind going with Pivotal — and the twelve-factor app model that entails — is to help the company accelerate its journey and give it an option to run new apps in both an on-premise and cloud environment.

“We’re coming from a place where we are largely on premise,” said Swann. “Our aim is to become increasingly agile — where we are going to focus on building balanced and focused teams with a global mindset.” To do that, Swann said, the team decided to go with the best platforms to enable that and that “remove the muck that comes with how developers work today.”

As for Google, Swann noted that this was an easy decision because the team wanted to leverage that company’s infrastructure and machine learning tools like Cloud ML. “We are aiming to build some of the most powerful AI systems focused on this space so we can be ahead of our customers,” he said. Given the number of users, StubHub sits on top of a lot of data — and that’s exactly what you need when you want to build AI-powered services. What exactly these will look like, though, remains to be seen, but Swann has only been on the job for six months. We can probably expect to see more for the company in this space in the coming months.

“Digital transformation is on the mind of every technology leader, especially in industries requiring the capability to rapidly respond to changing consumer expectations,” said Bill Cook, President of Pivotal . “To adapt, enterprises need to bring together the best of modern developer environments with software-driven customer experiences designed to drive richer engagement.”

Stubhub has already spun up its new development environment and plans to launch all new ups on this new infrastructure. Swann acknowledged that they company won’t be switching all of its workloads over to the new setup soon. But he does expect that the company will hit a tipping point in the next year or so.

He also noted that this over transformation means that the company will look beyond its own walls and toward working with more third-party APIs, especially with regard to transportation services and merchants that offer services around events.

Throughout our conversation, Swann also stressed that this isn’t a technology change for the sake of it.

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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Pivotal Software closed up 5% following IPO, raised $555 million

Stock market investors showed lukewarm enthusiasm for Pivotal Software’s debut on Friday. After pricing the IPO at $15, the company closed the day at $15.73.

Although it didn’t “pop” for new investors, pricing at the midpoint of its proposed range allowed Pivotal to raise $555 million. Its public company market cap exceeded $3 billion.

The enterprise cloud computing company has been majority-owned by Dell, which came about after its merger with EMC in 2016. It was spun off from Dell, EMC and VMware in April 2013.

After that, it raised $1.7 billion in funding from Microsoft, Ford and General Electric.

Here’s how it describes its business in the S-1 filing:

Pivotal looks to “provide a leading cloud-native platform that makes software development and IT operations a strategic advantage for our customers. Our cloud-native platform, Pivotal  Cloud Foundry (‘PCF’), accelerates and streamlines software development by reducing the complexity of building, deploying and operating new cloud-native applications and modernizing legacy applications.”

According to the filing, Pivotal brought in $509.4 million in revenue for its fiscal year ending in February. This is up from $416.3 million in revenue for 2017 and $280.9 million in revenue the year before.

The company is still losing a lot of money, however. Losses for fiscal 2018 stood at $163.5 million, improved from the than the negative $232.5 million seen in 2017 and $282.5 million in 2016.

“We have incurred substantial losses and may not be able to generate sufficient revenue to achieve and sustain profitability,” the company warned in the requisite “risk factors” section of its IPO filing.

Pivotal also acknowledged that it faces competition from “legacy application infrastructure and middleware form vendors” like IBM and Oracle. The company says it additionally competes with “open-source based offerings supported by vendors” like RedHat. Pivotal also faces challenges from SAP Cloud Platform, Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.

The company says it believes it will stand out from the pack because of its strong security and easy-to-use platform. Pivotal also claims to have strong brand awareness and a good reputation. It has 118 U.S. patents and 73 pending and is betting that it will remain innovative.

Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs served as lead underwriters. Davis Polk and Fenwick & West worked as counsel.

The company listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker “PVTL.”

It has been an active spring for tech IPOs, after a slow winter. Dropbox, Spotify and Zuora are amongst the companies that have gone public in recent weeks. DocuSign, Smartsheet, Carbon Black and Pluralsight are all expected to debut within the next month.

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.

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

Aug
29
2017
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Seven moves that led to the VMware-Pivotal-Google partnership

 When VMware, Pivotal and Google announced a containerization partnership this morning at VMworld, it sounded more like the introduction to a joke — Google, VMware and Pivotal walked into a bar… But in fact, it’s probably not a coincidence that these three companies have joined together. They actually have a long and intertwined history — with former VMware co-founder… Read More

Aug
29
2017
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Pivotal-VMware-Google forge container partnership

 Pivotal, VMware and Google have teamed up on a containerization project that the companies say should simplify creating, deploying and managing container projects at scale. The companies are taking what is a set of open-source products and providing a commercial underpinning with the various parties in the partnership bringing the product to market. Read More

Jul
18
2017
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Rackspace partners with Pivotal to launch managed services for Cloud Foundry

 Rackspace, which strongly focuses on managed services these days, today announced a partnership with Pivotal, the company behind the open source Cloud Foundry platform as a service project. Rackspace already offers managed services for AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, VMware, OpenStack and it is now adding Pivotal Cloud Foundry to this mix. Rackspace, which made the announcement at… 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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