As a 20 year veteran of developing software, I can tell you it is hard. From requirements gathering, to designing user experience, to deploying and scaling the software, you find yourself spending a ton of time doing things that are not code—and precious little time doing things you actually care about. Namely, developing code.
Pivotal’s mission, grounded largely on the Pivotal Cloud Foundry platform (PCF), is to eliminate the pain, automate the majority of tasks, and empower developers to be more productive doing what they do best—writing code.
We are not looking for modest gains, either. A variety of methodologies and tools have already chiseled away at some of this pain. Agile development helps pare project goals down, while pair programming helps engineers innovate faster. Test driven development cuts down on errors, and continuous integration and deployment deploys the code faster. Mature language frameworks like Spring provide lots of the application scaffolding like authentication and data services for free, eliminating large portions of routine application development, while a focus on microservices allows you to iterate and improve services quickly. Even with these advantages, developing and deploying scalable software still takes most companies 6 to 9 months. We are aiming for weeks to days—and even minutes.
How To Cut Out Unproductive Development Time
In one of the rare edu-taining product overviews that is in a style closer to Pixar than Powerpoint, Pivotal’s Onsi Fakhouri, vice president of cloud research & development, explains how Pivotal is transforming how the world builds software by using a simple haiku:
cf push (developer)
here is my source code
run it on the cloud for me
i do not care how
bosh deploy (operator)
here are my servers
go make them a cloud foundry
i do not care how
The idea here is to bake in all the agile methodologies and automation to eliminate the friction, errors and time to deliver software, so developers and operators are not bogged down by the basics and can devote their full attention to innovation.
Of course, to do this, we need a few more haikus. We need to transform how:
- Developers deploy software.
- Operators install enterprise software.
- Operators deploy services.
- Developers consume services.
- The world build microservices.
- The world secures software.
- The world CIs software.
- The world monitors software.
Real Customer Impact
CoreLogic confesses to being skeptical of the promise of a Pivotal Cloud Foundry transformation, sharing that “some doubted that Pivotal’s methodology would work, but we’ve shown that it resulted in a faster time to market at less cost.” Now it is considered one of “the most exciting things they’ve done in the past 12 months” and without it, “a lot of the things [they] have been able to do in the past year would not have been possible.”
Humana encapsulates their transformation as going from “2 months to just provisioning the servers to delivering products in less than 5 weeks.” Lockheed Martin had similar results sharing that they were able to deliver an “app in 10 weeks instead of 9 months.”
Big Bets For The Road Ahead
With over 40 teams just at Pivotal working on each of these angles, Onsi’s organization is taking on big bets this year. In just 20 minutes, Onsi gives a solid overview of some of the achievements and goals. Things like:
- Pivotal Cloud Foundry can run 10,000 containers now, and they are working on ratcheting that up to 250,000 containers. And that includes .NET too.
- Ops Manager provides the one button click to deploy software now, and is looking at more complicated use cases like multi-AZ for AWS and Azure support. For those who love the raw power of using command line BOSH, we will also be investigating how to support and simplify manifest generation.
- We’ve developed over a dozen services from data services to mobile services to spring services and security services, and are tackling how multiple developers bind to these services by revamping BOSH. BOSH 2.0 is almost out the door!
- Over a year ago the Spring team delivered Spring Boot—an opinionated, consistent framework that gives you so many Spring features for free, you can write a basic Hello Boot program within the space of a tweet. In the past year, Spring Boot has been so successful at helping companies build consistent microservices, the project has grown to over 2.2 million developers downloading it each month. Last year, in cooperation with Netflix, the Spring team made Spring Services a first class citizen on PCF, introducing features that help automate service discovery and substitution for when problems occur.
- In 2015, Pivotal spun up a security team that this year will work on making sure PCF is secure by default. Two key themes among many that this team is tasked with: ubiquitous, frequent, credential rotation and Federal certification.
- CI has always been a critical component of successful Cloud Foundry implementations. In 2016, we are committed to adding support for Concourse and truly transform how the world CIs software.
- In 2015, we doubled down on how software should be monitored, and we are working on a new service that should be ready soon called PCF Metrics which adds all your logs, metrics and alerts in one place and importantly, just works whenever you deploy software.
Of course, Onsi goes into more detail for each point in the video below—plus it’s just entertaining!
Onsi finishes the talk by affirming that all the work we have done so far in Pivotal Cloud Foundry has dramatically advanced how the world builds software, but admits we have more work to do. To truly advance how the world builds software, we need to advance how the world iterates building software, starting with an idea, developing, deploying and analyzing that software to come up with the next idea to improve that software. This is the bigger picture that Pivotal will be investing in this year.
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