Paul Maritz: Pivotal is a bridge to the future

In an exclusive interview, Pivotal CEO Paul Maritz lays out his vision of the next generation of Internet applications and his company's role in helping IT build them

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Knorr: Internet of things applications would seem to be a long way off. Today aren't you leading with professional services? One of the key points some people have missed is that Pivotal's name comes from Pivotal Labs, a high-end Web development firm EMC acquired 18 months ago. I would imagine, certainly in terms of the revenue for the company in the near term, it's largely going to come from Pivotal Labs?

Maritz: We don't see it as an either/or thing. Having Pivotal Labs as a next-generation services capability is an incredible asset for us. They are speaking to a great need in customers to do things differently.

A lot of customers are saying, "Look, we're tired of engagements that last for years and result in something we're not sure we wanted in the first place." The Pivotal Labs model has been very intense, almost joint-venture engagements with the customers. That's something we find extraordinarily interesting, and not only because people like the fact that they can get something done quickly.

In a lot of cases customers are having to rediscover software development. They're saying, "Look, all of a sudden the nature of my competition is changing. I need to get back into using software as a differentiator and I want to discover how software development is done today, not as it was done 20 years ago when I was a young programmer." And so they are very interested in coming to work with Pivotal because they think it gives an insight into how modern agile software development is done.

We deliberately chose the Pivotal name to give to the whole company because we think Pivotal Labs embodies a lot of the forward-looking, more agile way of doing things that we're trying to actually put back into our own behavior.

Knorr: And obviously, with Cloud Foundry, you're targeting developers.

Maritz: Yes, enterprise IT and developers.

Knorr: And providing, maybe, a bridge for enterprise IT, which seems somewhat under siege right now?

Maritz: Correct. Enterprise IT is being asked to do something very difficult right now: To become fundamentally more efficient in their existing IT operations and innovate and give capabilities to the enterprise on the other hand.

In one case they've been asked to create savings from their existing operations in order to fund innovation going forward. And it's always a chicken and the egg thing. It's hard to do both at the same time. So you try and get some savings first and then reinvest that in the innovation -- or you try to do some innovation to build credibility. So it's a tough dance that enterprise IT is in today. I think there is a deep realization that they can't just keep doing what they're doing and expect that somehow some miracle will happen along the way.

Our view is that both perspectives are valid. Some people are going to focus for now on getting efficiencies and taking complexity out of the environment -- whether by moving toward a private or public cloud or hybrid cloud infrastructure, trying to move more of our applications onto a common PaaS platform, etc. The more advanced folks are realizing that if you go down that road, at some point you have to deal with PaaS, because at the end of the day a lot of your complexity and cost is caused by applications. So just moving onto your virtualized infrastructure is good but it's not enough.

The people who are coming at it from the innovation side are saying, "Look, the most important thing I need to do for my organization is deliver some of these new experiences, these new ways of being able to reason over data, etc." And we're finding ourselves speaking to both constituencies at this point in time. If you want to go down the efficiency route, you should be working to move towards a hybrid cloud infrastructure -- and here's Cloud Foundry as the next step along that road. If people are talking to an innovation perspective of the world, we're saying, "You've got to start looking very carefully at the data fabrics and how you build applications, and here's a set of things that you could do to put yourself on a different footing." Those two things are going to coexist for a long while, and you have to be able to position to speak to both.

Knorr: When will you have an application that shows the full capabilities of the Pivotal platform? I would imagine you want to have that concurrent with the launch of Pivotal One.

Maritz: Yes. We'll obviously have some of our own internal uses. But I've been building platforms for a long time and I know that this is an iterative process and that the most important thing is to be aligned with the tides of history, and then execute well. If you don't align with the tides of history, everything is hard. And if you are aligned and you execute badly, life is still hard. You need to do both.

This article, "Paul Maritz: Pivotal is a bridge to the future," originally appeared at Read more of Eric Knorr's Modernizing IT blog. And for the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld on Twitter.

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