Pivotal Cloud Foundry 1.6, getting beyond the blinking cursor into the application layer

There’s a new release of Pivotal Cloud Foundry out this week. We’ve been seeing great pick-up from customers, and the nature of conversations I’ve been seeing while visiting them has been changing from operations, IaaS-driven topics to discussions about improving application development and delivery. This release also reflects that shift “up the stack.” Here’s my brief take on how things are going for Pivotal Cloud Foundry.

The most typical path to using Pivotal Cloud Foundry

First, this is how I see most customers arriving at Pivotal Cloud Foundry:

Who does Pivotal see as their toughest competition? According to Watters, that distinction belongs to AWS. Cloud customers often believe that AWS itself is enough. [James] Watters says that there wouldn’t even be the concept of cloud-native apps without Amazon, but “people need more than just Amazon to be successful.” Watters believes that some of Pivotal’s best customers are those who first tried to creates platforms themselves, but then asked “what’s the right thing to do for my organization?”

The rest of the piece is a good, brief overview of the new feature in Pivotal Cloud Foundry 1.6.

What I see in this release is a movement “up the stack” to address application architecture and development concerns. You can see this in the incorporation of Spring Cloud (which supports, among many other things, a microservices approach), support for .Net (almost every large organization wants and needs this for the way they develop applications), and the numerous integrations with ALM tools (like Cloudbees, GitLabs, etc.).

For many years – and still! – the focus of “cloud” has been on the infrastructure layer: setting up the “operating system” for the cloud, your big datacenter, and everything that results in that magical blinking cursor:

I think of this as the “blinking cursor” problem. You know that softly pulsing cursor: it’s the result of millions ­—if not billions! — of dollars spent on cloud projects. These “private cloud” projects see companies redoing how their IT department provides infrastructure. They move from physical to virtual management; move from manual ticket processing to self­-service, automated provisioning; and after efforts that must have seemed like building all of the furniture for a new IKEA store with just a pocket knife, they might end up with their own cloud. And then, after all of this, they’ve gotten the blinking cursor up! The servers are ready to use! Now the hard work of designing, developing, deploying, and managing the applications that run the business starts. There is little wonder that 95% of folks in [a poll asking “what went wrong with your private cloud project?”] were not completely satisfied with their private cloud projects.

I still see much of the conversation centering around getting the blinking curser up, and too little on how to create and manage good applications. So, obviously I like our new positioning “up the stack,” not only providing application-centric services, cloud-ified middleware, and the operations capabilities needed keep those application up and running.

In addition to the actual product, you can see this reflected on the team (the evangelist/advocate/community team) I’m on where we’ve added people who focus on explaining how to do better software development, in addition to the more operations-centric people we started with.

Momentum: customer and ecosystem growth and character

Momentum wise, I measure Pivotal Cloud Foundry based on customers and the overall Cloud Foundry ecosystem.

Customer wise, we’ve gone from about $40m in bookings in 2014 to a $100m annual bookings run-rate this year. Those are two, slightly different type numbers, but you can get a feel for the amount of business we’ve been doing, and more important, the high growth and fast traction we’re getting. What I like about out customer base is that they’re everyday, big brands and companies. This not only means I can better explain what I do to my non-tech friends and relatives, but also means we have a sustainable customer base: these Global 2,000 customers aren’t going away anytime soon, esp. if they keep up the strategy that brought them to Pivotal Cloud Foundry: transforming to a software defined business.

There’s a Cloud Foundry Summit this week in Berlin and it evidenced the ecosystem momentum around Cloud Foundry, the open source project that Pivotal Cloud Foundry is based on. There’s now just north of 50 members. When you look at those logos notice how many non-tech companies are on there: it’s still mostly tech companies who want to use or extend Cloud Foundry, but there’s a delightful number of non-tech companies who want to support the platform that’s supporting their business. And, of course, the work with Microsoft to support .Net brings that whole ecosystem very close as well. As I mentioned above, many of the every organization I talk with really wants .Net support. Another interesting thing to watch is growth in use of Azure; that’s an option that I hear companies exploring a lot now-a-days, and, indeed, as Microsoft said in the press around this release, “[t]he demand for Azure was so high that we already have Fortune 100 customers building their next-generation applications with Pivotal Cloud Foundry on Azure.”

Obviously, working at Pivotal I’m highly biased on all this. Still, I think there’s good evidence that things are panning out. My main hope, as always, is that we can help improve the state of software, globally, and, thus, improve how organizations are operating.

More on Pivotal Cloud Foundry 1.6:

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