My First Three Months at Pivotal, and the Road Ahead to ApacheCON 2014

March 14, 2014 Roman Shaposhnik

featured-roman-shoposhnikIt’s been a busy and exciting quarter since I joined Pivotal’s Hadoop leadership team. What drew me to Pivotal was the ambition of the Pivotal One vision, and the transformative potential promised by the world’s first comprehensive multi-cloud PaaS for the Enterprise. It’s the sort of big-picture, paradigm-shifting thinking that drew me to past projects I’ve been involved in, working on Apache Hadoop and Apache Bigtop at Yahoo! and then Cloudera. While I remain in awe of that vision, what’s really struck me since joining the company is the caliber of the people working here.

The engineering culture at Pivotal is second to none and the company’s unofficial-yet-pervasive ‘no a**holes allowed’ policy rings as true as it does in the best of Apache Software Foundation (ASF) projects. If you’re an open source developer, you couldn’t wish to work with a better community of like minded hackers.

Folks around here are constantly asking me what I’ve been working on for the past three months, a good conversation starter that typically turns into a 15 minute chat. This is a great way to make friends and meet the amazing men and women who work at Pivotal, but the results of those conversations often don’t get projected outside of company walls. Hence this blog post.

In general, I’ve focused on the following four areas:

Aligning Pivotal HD with Apache Hadoop ecosystem projects and Apache Bigtop.

Pivotal’s Hadoop distribution, Pivotal HD, offers a robust, enterprise-grade platform for big data management. That remains as true today as it did last year. Yet the level of collaboration between Pivotal engineers and the open source community has changed significantly over the past three months. Pivotal engineers are very present in communities such as Apache Bigtop and Apache Hadoop, and the community contribution ranges from proposals for major new features (HDFS–4167) to small bugfixes, as well as changes in infrastructure maintenance proposals brought to the Bigtop community (BIGTOP–1247, BIGTOP–1231, etc.).

While I can’t take credit for the actual engineering work, I feel a sense of accomplishment for serving as a sounding board during the preceeding discussions and facilitating a robust two-way street of collaborative innovations between Pivotal products and ASF projects.

Growing Pivotal’s team of open source big data platform developers.

It’s no big secret: Hiring in the valley is tough right now. Hiring A+ open source developers is even tougher. If luck has it, I may be increasing my team count by one pretty soon, with a few folks still in the pipeline for Q2. That said, I can’t stress enough that NOW is the best time to join Pivotal. We’re a true startup company that is building a very exciting product. As anybody in the valley knows, the sooner you join a startup the more impact you’ll have on the company’s products and its evolution—not to mention the equity.

Helping leverage Pivotal’s impressive open source software portfolio to unlock the potential for cross-industry collaboration.

You may have already seen the culmination of these efforts with the announcement of the Cloud Foundry Foundation. This open governance partnership between Pivotal, EMC, IBM, HP, Rackspace, SAP, VMware, and more has been praised for its transparency and meritocratic governance approach. The Foundation’s model is unique in that it is inclusive of corporate interests as much as individual contributor interests.

You might not believe how much works goes into making something like that happen. When I joined Pivotal, most of the Cloud Foundry Foundation efforts were already in flight. That said, I was presented with a great opportunity to get involved in some of the deep and detailed considerations that such an arrangement requires, like fine tuning the legal framework that would facilitate non-restricted collaboration between Pivotal employees and various Open Source Foundations. I hope to help put a really robust framework in place soon for non-Cloud Foundry projects as well, which will ensure that Pivotal is one of the easiest and most rewarding places for open source developers to be employed at.

The Cloud Foundry Foundation is only one of our efforts toward championing industry-wide collaboration on key open source projects. If luck has it, others will follow. We’re trying to learn from the best in the industry (ASF, Linux Foundation, Eclipse Foundation). We’re also trying to offer our own vision of how to further the cause of enterprise-grade open source software by engaging in a productive dialogue with the rest of the industry. For example, I was recently invited to an OSS Think Tank event, where I hope to be able to pick some of the greatest brains and perhaps offer something meaningful in return.

Exponentially increasing Pivotal’s involvement in Apache Sofware Foundation.

This calls back to my first point, but is worth re-emphasizing. To this end, I’ve been focused on making sure that ApacheCON 2014 in Denver serves as Pivotal’s debut in the ASF community—our “coming out” party if you will. With the help of our awesome marketing team, we’ve secured a Gold sponsorship of the conference and we’re also hosting a reception for committers on the evening of Monday, April 7th.

We plan on demonstrating our strong and ongoing commitment to ASF technologies during a keynote talk on Monday, April 7, and during a dozen talks featuring key Pivotal staff and developers. I look forward to the event to demonstrate Pivotal’s committment to Apache, open source development, and have more great conversations that turn into fascinating and inspiring chats.

About the Author


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