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Pivotal Cloud Foundry clears path to Amazon Web Services

Pivotal Cloud Foundry is offering one-click connections to AWS, as well as free infrastructure management for subscription customers.

Pivotal preaches its application-centric approach to Cloud Foundry, but it's a new infrastructure deal that could expand the company's footprint.

Pivotal, a spinoff of VMware and EMC, is making it easier for its customers to connect its platform as a service (PaaS) offering to Amazon Web Services (AWS) and move workloads from the public cloud to on-premises data centers.

Customers can now use one-click installation to connect to AWS, as well as have Pivotal manage the underlying cloud infrastructure -- a model it could repeat with other public cloud vendors.

It's a sensible move, especially considering it's with the largest public cloud vendor in the market, said John Rymer, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research, Inc., based in Cambridge, Mass. Pivotal and IBM, which uses Cloud Foundry technology for its Bluemix PaaS offering, have a presence in private cloud, but that isn't enough, he added.

"There's good awareness, but it's a hybrid world and you can't just live on private alone," Rymer said. "You've got to have your platform on the relevant infrastructure, so the AWS partnership is crucial."

Pivotal Cloud Foundry customers can set the platform up on their own AWS account or let the PaaS vendor manage the instances as part of the new Pivotal Web Services with Enterprise Support. The hosted application instances are offered at no additional cost to the existing licensing cost, which are priced at $3,300 per application container.

You've got to have your platform on the relevant infrastructure, so the AWS partnership is crucial.
John Rymervice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research, Inc,

The impetus for the move was a trend of line-of-business Pivotal customers that wanted to consume the service on top of AWS' infrastructure more easily, said James Watters, vice president and general manager of the cloud platform group at Pivotal. These new capabilities help customers take advantage of the speed of development on Amazon. Additionally, they allow IT executives to decide if they want to use an on-premises build-out to move the workload to a private cloud or if they want to run an application entirely on the public cloud, he said.

"It really gets back to serving both IT and the line of business at the same time," Watters said. "We come at it from a very app-centric world view."

The potential to test apps on AWS and bring them back in-house for production could appeal to enterprise IT pros who want more flexibility. But applications built in the cloud are inherently designed for scalability and other features that on-premises architectures often lack, said Holger Mueller, vice president and principal analyst for Constellation Research, Inc., based in Cupertino, Calif. It's also unlikely to solve the conflict between the two competing forces any time soon.

"That's wishful thinking," Mueller said. "It's always going to be contentious between the tech guys and the business guys."

The deal has obvious benefits for Pivotal, but not necessarily for Amazon, which already has its own PaaS offering Elastic Beanstalk. But for Amazon, Google and Microsoft, which run their public clouds at a scale that no other vendor can remotely compete with right now, they must keep ingesting more data for their business models to work, Rymer said.

"They need to capture all the demand that they can get," Rymer said. "Even if it's demand for virtual machines and storage that comes from a potentially competing platform, they're happy to get that demand."

Pivotal Cloud Foundry was previously supported by VMware's vSphere and vCloud Air, as well as OpenStack. AWS is currently the only major public cloud vendor to support Cloud Foundry, but expect more moves like this in the future, Watters said.

"We talk a lot to folks at Google and Azure," Watters said. "We have active discussions with them both and, over time, we anticipate Cloud Foundry supporting all the major clouds."

The problem with most of the larger PaaS offerings currently available is that they are tied to an underlying cloud infrastructure, so this could be the first of several arrangements that counter a similar perception with Pivotal and the rest of the EMC federation, Mueller said.

"That's what they have to do to get credibility," Mueller said. "They can't stop."

Trevor Jones is the news writer for SearchCloudComputing. You can reach him at [email protected].

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