All Things Pivotal Podcast Episode #15: What is Pivotal Web Services?

February 11, 2015 Simon Elisha

featured-pivotal-podcastYou have a great idea for an app—and need a quick and easy place to deploy it.

You are interested in Platform as a Service—but you want a low risk and free way to try it out.

You are constrained on dev/test capacity and need somewhere your developers can work effectively and quickly—NOW.

Whilst you might be familiar with Pivotal CF as a Platform as a Service that you can deploy on-premises or in the cloud provider of your choice—you may not know that Pivotal CF is also available in a hosted for as Pivotal Web Services.

In this episode we take a closer look at Pivotal Web Services—what is it used for, and how you can take advantage of it.





Speaker 1:

Welcome to the All Things Pivotal podcast, the podcast at the intersection of agile, cloud, and big data. Stay tuned for regular updates, technical deep dives, architecture discussions, and interviews. Please share your feedback with us by e-mailing

Simon Elisha:

Hello everyone and welcome back to the All Things Pivotal podcast. Fantastic to have you back. My name is Simon Elisha. Good to have you with me again today. A quick and punchy podcast this week, but an interesting one nonetheless hopefully and answering a question that comes up quite commonly. Well, it’s really 2 questions. The first question is, how can I try out Pivotal Cloud Foundry really, really quickly without any set up time? Which often relates to my answer being, ‘Well have you heard of Pivotal Web Services?’ To which people say, ‘What is Pivotal Web Services?’ Also known as, PWS. Also known as P-Dubs.

Pivotal Web Services is a service available on the Web, funnily enough, at It is a hosted version of Pivotal Cloud Foundry running on Amazon Web Services in the US. It provides a platform upon which you can use as a developer, push applications to it, organize your workspaces, and really use as a development platform or even as a production location for your applications. It is a fully-featured running version of Pivotal CF in the Cloud. Not surprisingly, that’s what Pivotal CF can do, but this provides a hosted version for you.

Let’s unpack this a little bit and have a look at what it is and why you might want to use it. The first thing that’s good to know is you can connect to straight away. You don’t need a credit card to start and you get a 60-day free trial. I’ll talk about what you get in that 60-day free trial shortly, but the good thing to know is you can go and try it straight away. Often when I’m talking to customers and they’re getting their toe in the water with platforms and service and they’re trying to understand what it is and they say, ‘Oh where can I just try and push an app or test something out?’ I say, ‘Hey go to Pivotal Web Services, it’s free, you can try it out, you can grab an application you’ve got on the shelf and just see what it’s like.’ They go, ‘Well that’s pretty cool, I can do it straight away.’ No friction in that happening.

In terms of what you can use on the platform, so we currently support apps written in Java, Grails, Play, Spring, Node.js, Ruby on Rails, Sinatra, Go, Python, or PHP. Any of those ones will automatically be discovered and [hey presto 02:37] CF push and away we go. If you’ve been listening to previous episodes you’ll know the magic of the CF push process. If however you need another language, you can use a Community Buildpack or you can even write a custom one yourself that will run on the platform as well. Obviously, if you’re running an application you may want to consume some services. You can choose from a variety of third party data bases, e-mail services, monitoring services, that exist in the Marketplace, that exist on Pivotal Cloud Foundry. I’ll run you through what some of those services are because there really is a nice selection available for you.

What you then do is you buy into those services within your application and Pivotal Cloud Foundry, and P-Dubs in particular, takes care of all the connection criteria or the buying in process or the credentials etc, which make it nice and easy. You may be saying, ‘Well hmm, what does this cost me to get access to this kind of platform?’ Well, it’s a really simple, simple model. It’s application centric and you pay 3 cents US per gig per hour. That’s the per hour cost is for the amount of memory used by the application to run. Now, with that 3 cents you get included your routing, so your traffic routing, your load balancing, you can up to 1 gig of ephemeral disk space on your app instances. You get free storage for your application files when they get pushed to the platform. You don’t pay for that storage cost at all. You get bandwidth both in and out, up to 2 terabytes of bandwidth. You get unified log streaming, which we’ll talk about and health management, which we’ll also talk about.

As you can imagine, this could be very cost-effective platform for dev test and production workloads because you’re only paying for what you use when you use it and you’re only paying at the application layer on a per memory basis. Now, there’s a really handy pricing tab on the Pivotal Web Services page that lets you put in how many app instances you’d need for your application and will punch out for you that cost on a per month basis for the hosting, which is really, really nice.

What are some of the things that we allow you to do with this platform? What are some of the benefits? As I mentioned, you get the 60-day free trial and the 60-day free trial, you get 2 gig of application memory, so it can run applications that consume up to 2 gig of aggregate memory. It can have up to 10 application services from the free tier of the Marketplace. This means you get to play with quite a lot of capability at very low cost, very, very easily.

Aside from pushing your app, which is yeah, nice and easy and something you want to do, what else do we do with this? Well, we can [elect 05:17] to have performance monitoring. In the developer console, which you can log into, you can see all your spaces, your applications and their status, how many services are bound to them etc. You can drill into them in more detail to see what they’re actually consuming. If you want even more detailed monitoring, so inside the application type monitoring, you can use New Relic for that and that’s a service that’s offered in the Marketplace. It has a zero touch configuration. For Java applications, you can basically [crank and bind 05:47] you New Relic service to your app very, very simply with basically no configuration. It’s amazing. For other languages like Ruby or Java Script, you have to the New Relic [agent 05:56] running, but it’s still a pretty trivial process to get it up and going.

Now, once your application is running, you probably want to make sure it keeps running. A normal desire to have. We have this thing called, The Health Manager. This is an automated system that monitors your application for you and if your application instances exit you to an error or something happens where the number of instances is less than the ones that you actually created when you did your CF push or CF Scale, the platform will automatically recover those particular instances for you. Obviously, the log will be updated to indicate that that took place. If you set up an application and you have 3 instances running, it will run them for you. If one of them fails, it will spin up another one for you and you’re good to go.

Another capability is, of course, the Unified Log Streaming. One of the features of Pivotal CF is the ability to bring logs together from multiple application instances into the one place. In PWS, we do the same thing. We have this streaming log API that will send all the information, all the components, for your application to the one location. You can tailor this interactively yourself or you can use a syslog drain too, once you have a third party tool you may like. Tools like, Splunk or Logstash etc. They’re all scoped by a unique application ID and an instance index, so they can correlate across multiple events and see how they all fit together, which is nice.

The system also has a really nice Web console, which is built for really agile developers to use. You jump in, you can see what applications are running, where, who started them, what’s going on. You can even connect your spacers with your CI pipeline to make sure that builds are going into the correct life cycle stage of being deployed appropriately as well. You can also see quotas and building across your spacers because you have access to organizations and spacers as well. We’ll talk about organizations and spacers in another episode.

What about from a services perspective? What are some of the services that we have available in the Marketplace? Well, it’s growing all the time. It’s a movable face, as I like to say. We have a number. I’ll just call out a few highlight ones. Things like, Searchify for search, BlazeMeter for load testing, Redis Cloud, which is an enterprise-class cache. We talked about caches a little while ago, ClearDB, which is a MySQL database service. We have Searchly, ElasticSearch. We have the Memcached [D 08:19] Cloud. We have SendGrid for sending e-mail, MongoLab for MongoDB as a service, New Relic obviously for access to performance criteria. RabbitMQ, so through Cloud AMQP, ElephantSQL, PostgreSQL as a service etc, etc. A good selection of services there are available to you to use.

It’s interesting seeing what people use this for. Often, customers who use this for a dev and test experience or to get the developers up to speed with using platform as a service. A company called [Synapse, which I’ll say 08:49], which is small, or young I should say, Boston based company that builds software and service web and mobile apps for consumer startups, they decided to use Pivotal Web Services for their platform because they wanted to just have the same develop experience through dev test and production, and it completely suited their needs. It gave them the flexibility in terms of how they built the application, it gave them the sizing requirements they needed etc. The other nice thing that they got out of it was the ability to deploy their particular application both in the public Cloud or in private Clouds that customers wanted to run. What they realized is that if they had customers who said, ‘Hey we really like your particular application, we like your service, but we want to run it in-house for whatever reason that we have,’ they had a very simple and easy way to say that ‘Hey, you just run Pivotal CF internally, we bring our code across, and it will work fine.’ A really interesting example there.

If you’ve ever wanted to have a play with Pivotal CF, you wondered how it looks, and what the experience is from a developer perspective, then Pivotal Web Services or PWS is the place to go. That’s There’s a 60-day free trial. You don’t have to enter your credit card when you sign up for the free trial. You can have a bit of an experiment and see how you go. Hopefully you’ll be able to make something pretty cool and until then, talk to you later, and keep on building.

Speaker 1:

Thanks for listening to the All Things Pivotal podcast. If you enjoyed it, please share it with others. We love hearing your feedback, so please send any comments or suggestions to

About the Author

Simon Elisha is CTO & Senior Manager of Field Engineering for Australia & New Zealand at Pivotal. With over 24 years industry experience in everything from Mainframes to the latest Cloud architectures - Simon brings a refreshing and insightful view of the business value of IT. Passionate about technology, he is a pragmatist who looks for the best solution to the task at hand. He has held roles at EDS, PricewaterhouseCoopers, VERITAS Software, Hitachi Data Systems, Cisco Systems and Amazon Web Services.

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