Pivotal Delivers Cloud Foundry To AWS

Pivotal generally released Tuesday a version of its open-source Cloud Foundry development platform that can be deployed in Amazon's public cloud, either as a hosted service or independently through the AWS marketplace.

The AWS-integrated Pivotal Cloud Foundry virtual appliances are intended to extend the popular Platform-as-a-Service beyond the IT department and into the enterprise line of business, said James Watters, vice president of the Cloud Foundry Group at Pivotal.

Pivotal Web Services, the hosted product, comes included with Pivotal Cloud Foundry software subscriptions. Users who instead opt to manage their own scalable PaaS environment can start with an Amazon Machine Image.

[Related: Pivotal Tries To Steal Amazon's Thunder With Commercial Cloud Foundry Launch]

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The AWS integration allows a much simpler approach to working with the powerful, but complex, development platform and enables Cloud Foundry to operate in truly hybrid cloud environments.

"It is hyper-powerful, but it's not always the easiest thing to install and configure yourself because it is a big platform that can run tens of thousands of applications," Watters said of Cloud Foundry.

Pivotal Cloud Foundry was created to be offered, ideally, as a hosted service, Watters told CRN, with users simply launching applications that saw shared services. The AWS integration, which Pivotal has been running for two years in a sandbox environment, finally brings that vision to fruition, he said.

Before this week, Pivotal Cloud Foundry only supported VMware's vSphere and vCloud Air environments as well as OpenStack clouds.

Nic Williams, founder and CEO of Stark & Wayne, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based DevOps consultancy specializing in Cloud Foundry projects, told CRN his customers are adopting Cloud Foundry because cloud-native applications cost less to build and are easier to update and scale.

"Nothing comes close to the feature set and ability to create production workloads like Cloud Foundry. There isn't anything else," said Williams, who has spent his career developing tools for developers.

But what his customers have been clamoring for is the same security features and tools integrated with the elastic functionality of a public cloud like AWS, said Williams, better known in the development community as "Dr. Nic."

"Most of our customers in the last year have wanted to run it on Amazon. But we've only had the open-source to work with, so it's pretty exciting what's coming out," he told CRN.

Deploying from scratch and running Cloud Foundry in an on-premise environment consumes a lot of man-hours, Williams explained.

"It’s a complex, big, big system to run. It's far better for us, our consultancy and our clients, to have a Cloud Foundry that works, have Pivotal provide all the support, and the customer can go about using it, flushing out all integration with their organization and just building apps," Williams told CRN.

"No one wants to be running a platform. They just want to be building apps," Williams added.

Watters told CRN that what customers find "really the most radical and unexpected part" of the managed Pivotal Web Services -- essentially Software-as-a-Service for middleware -- is that they get cloud capacity simply by buying a software subscription.

The unmanaged offering for more sophisticated cloud users, including those who "graduate" from Pivotal Web Services, also enables rapid deployment, Watters said. Partners or customers can designate how many nodes in AWS they want and within hours be working with a scalable platform running applications that can be seamlessly migrated between public and private clouds.

Pivotal has integrated with AWS using only public APIs, with no unique partnership with the cloud giant.

"You'll expect to see us do this with other clouds in the future," Watters told CRN.

When Williams started consulting on Cloud Foundry, he assumed developers would be the prime adopters of the open-source PaaS offering.

"But it turns out it was all C-level people who got that sort of time-to-value idea in their head," he said. What's really important to those business leaders is how quickly they can get value out of their IT efforts and mitigate their risks, he said.

That attitude is driving the DevOps movement, Williams said, "with every aspect of modern IT moving to fast iterations, shipping early, being in front of the customer with a real thing that works and knowing how far down the rabbit hole to take a piece of software."

"They all seem to realize that if they don't become a software company and build upon what they already have, somebody else will come along and do it," he told CRN.