The Economist: Will Pivotal Be Bigger Than Google, Apple for the Enterprise?

December 16, 2013 Stacey Schneider

The-EconomistOur first calendar year of business is coming to a rapid close. Its been a busy one at that—we spun out the company, partnered with the likes of General Electric, IBM, and most recently CapGemini, pushed Cloud Foundry to the forefront of the PaaS market, acquired Xtreme Labs, built a big data center of excellence that will rapidly modernize Asian markets, delivered new, proven solutions that allow companies to have big data analytics on demand, and of course released our first version of Pivotal One, the cohesive suite of software services that is letting any enterprise develop with the level of productivity usually reserved for internet giants like Facebook, Yahoo! and Amazon.

From the inside, the pace is almost dizzying. With the nimbleness of a startup, and over 1600 really, really smart people who are purposely unencumbered to do what they are charged to do, Pivotal is able to accomplish a lot really fast. And its a good thing, because our mission to help organizations be more productive, scalable and agile is quickly becoming a burning issue for the CIO agenda.

The Economist published last week a story simply titled, Time to Pivot. In the article, they summarize a CIO study:

Gartner, a research firm, says that in a recent survey of chief information officers two-thirds said they expected to change their primary IT suppliers by 2017. Asked to name the most influential vendor of the next ten years, they placed Apple third, Google second—and an unnamed “different vendor” at the top.

The story goes on to explain exactly what we are aiming for: to be that top vendor.

Established vendors are trying to adapt; younger ones have sprung up to challenge them. One of the hopefuls is a mixture of the two: Pivotal, which was set up in April with assets from EMC, a data-storage company, and its listed subsidiary, VMWare. General Electric has a 10% stake, for which it paid $105m. “Enterprises are really going to have to renew their IT infrastructure in a major way,” says Paul Maritz, Pivotal’s chief executive (pictured). He speaks of a “holy cycle” of applications, data and analytics: build the first, extract the second, apply the third, improve the first, and so on.

Consumer-internet giants such as Google and Facebook, Mr Maritz says, have found ways of going through this cycle at greater scale and speed and at lower cost than most enterprises can, using enormous numbers of computers working in parallel. Pivotal wants to help other companies get up to speed too. “Enterprises are going to have to shift from where IT was really just about automating undifferentiated back-office functions to using IT as the fundamental product of what they do,” Mr Maritz says.

Simply put, we are aiming to consumerize IT to be offered as a service. We are closing the loop on that “holy cycle” of applications, data and analytics. We are making it so development and production environments can be available on-demand. We are making sure big data is baked into the development toolset so every effort can capitalize on the organizations data potential. And we are separating applications from the infrastructure enough so the path to scalability and portability among cloud environments is clear.

And while we are a new company, since we are a spin-out, we have a deep bench of products that are already pervasive in the enterprise that we are strategically building on. Technologies like Spring, that millions of java developers use every day already, are being connected to big data tools like Hadoop and delivery platforms like Cloud Foundry.

If you think about it in that context, with almost half of the world’s websites running on Apache Tomcat, a project we contribute heavily to, and if our goal is to make that product easier to use, cheaper to run, and catapult productivity—really, the number one spot for IT vendors to CIOs is clear and in reach.

This is even more obvious when you think of the other open source projects we shepherd like Spring, Groovy, Grails, RabbitMQ, Apache httpd, and Redis. I’d be willing to bet better than 75% of the world’s modern applications uses one of our technologies today. And each one of those projects could easily benefit from expanding their investment in our technology vision.

Then think of our Pivotal People. With leaders and luminaries from CEO Paul Maritz to Data Scientist Annika Jimenez, we have a deep bench of industry knowledge and a proven track record of execution that shaves any doubt that we will not achieve our goals. Think outside our walls and the partners we work with who are delivering results today in this arena are staggering. GE, IBM, Savvis, Verizon, Canonical, OpenStack, and CapGemeni are just a few of the partners that are delivering billions in savings today to their customers.

So, watch out 2014. We are about to change the IT software game for all of you, and we’re sure you’re going to like it.

About the Author


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