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Labourey says simplified CloudBees PaaS attractive to ISVs

CloudBees CEO Sacha Labourey discusses what's new with CloudBees and the PaaS market at JavaOne in San Francisco.

CloudBees CEO Sacha Labourey had a busy week at JavaOne. CloudBees, the Platform as a Service he founded in 2010 after leaving JBoss, announced the release of ClickStart and ClickStack, one-click build-and-deploy templates for the CloudBees platform aimed at independent software vendors.

Labourey was also an exhibitor at the JavaOne conference and played a key role in the Jenkins User Conference that preceded it.  Jenkins is an open source continuous integration server that is also used on the CloudBees platform. He sat down with to discuss CloudBees, Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Java development.

The last time we spoke with you in the spring, you were discussing how much evangelizing you were still doing. Do you still find yourself doing a lot of that?

Sacha Labourey: Yes, we still have to do a lot of evangelization. We still realize [Infrastructure as a Service] is intuitively understood and [Software as a Service] is intuitively understood -- servers versus Gmail, easy to get. PaaS, people don't get. They need to try it.

Do a lot of the people that come to your booth ask about Jenkins?

Labourey: Probably 50% of the users coming to the public cloud are interested in CloudBees because we offer that service online. They want agility, but they don't want to spend time installing this on premise in their own servers, managing this and so on. They really like the combination of CloudBees being in the cloud plus Jenkins and that's what DEV@cloud [CloudBees' development platform] is about.

When you talk about ClickStart being truly one-click, how difficult was it before?

Labourey: Before, each step was easy, but it was plenty of easy steps. And that's [why it was] error-prone. What we didn't see initially is that as a single developer, it's fine, you're going to go step by step anyway. But we probably didn't see it through the eyes of an [independent software vendor], who wanted to make those steps easier.

Does that simplicity expand your user base?

Labourey: Definitely. Since we've launched that, we've gotten real interest from independent software vendors (ISVs). Software vendors, they used to deploy on premise. They know that down the road, they know they need a multi-tenant SaaS for their business. But there's a big gap between -- it's going to take them two, three, five years to get there. They wonder, how can we spin this mono-tenant solution into a cloud solution?

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How much help does the average ISV need from you to start using CloudBees?

Labourey: They can get started alone. All of what ClickStart and ClickStack provide are available under an open source license on GitHub. You can look at what we did for JBoss, GlassFish, whatever, fork it and start on your own.

Did you have any reaction to Heroku ['s PaaS] announcing Java support at Dreamforce?

Labourey: I think it's an obvious move, right? Salesforce is interested in the enterprise market, so Java is the right place to go. It's not in Heroku's DNA, so they'll have to change their DNA quite a bit to get there. They did a great job, but they had an easy ride somehow because [the Ruby programming language] was born with the cloud so they could leverage it. Java is in a very different situation, and I don't think the choices that Heroku made for Ruby will naturally work for Java at all.

You mention that's pricing -- $1,000 per application -- is an unusual way to structure cloud pricing. Can you explain why?

Labourey: It's not so much about the amount as it's about the principle. In the cloud, it has to be about on-demand pricing; it has to be utility pricing. If you consume less, you pay less; if you consume more, you pay more. But coming up with a flat 1K price per month, to me just shows how unready they are.

It's funny to me because when I was at JBoss quite a few years back before Red Hat, in 2004, JBoss was starting to be deployed in [a large scale]. We were wondering what pricing scheme to put in place. I came up with a very stupid idea that I thought was smart, which was to do per-application pricing. So, for a while at JBoss you paid per app, which was great for big companies, we thought, because instead of paying per CPU or per cluster, they would pay a monthly fee and be happy. Everybody was [angry]; that's the bottom line. Small users thought it was too expensive and the big guys were thinking, 'Look, this is a serious app for me; it's a huge cluster. You're telling me for that price you're going to support it?'

Did you have any other opinions on their technical decisions?

Labourey: It's not ready, so I wouldn't be fair [commenting]. They say it's full stack, full deployment in the cloud, but it's not. You can't use Bamboo [on demand]; it has to be on-premise today. I'm sure they are going to fix it, but today, if you want to do a full lifecycle in the cloud, step one is to download Bamboo and install it in your server on premise.

Has anyone else at JavaOne impressed you?

Labourey: I think TypeSafe is growing well. Diane Green invested: She was the founder at VMware, and now they have a new CEO, Mark Brewer, who was at Covalent, SpringSource and then VMware, so they are growing nicely. Those JFrog guys are doing a great job, really growing nicely. For some people, it's not an interesting space because its binary management and so on, but really it's a core layer of all software development.

Adam Riglian is news writer for Follow him on Twitter@AdamRiglian.

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