VMware makes a play for developers with Pivotal Initiative

Pivotal Initiative lumps multiple app dev, big data, and cloud efforts under a single umbrella

By grouping several big data, software development, and cloud efforts under a single operation, VMware and parent company EMC have developers and devops in mind, analysts say.

The vendors' Pivotal Initiative, announced Dec. 4, is about refactoring EMC for the cloud era and serving both application development and operations management, says RedMonk analyst James Governor: "For all the talk of devops today, traditional categories remain in place. VMware virtualization is an enterprise ops tool of choice, but for many other products in the EMC portfolio, the developer is the target -- the guy with influence but little or no budget. That is, Pivotal makes sense at first glance."

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Pivotal places under one umbrella employees and resources from EMC's Greenplum and Pivotal Labs organizations along with VMware's vFabric, Cloud Foundry, and Cetas groups. Greenplum has focused on big data analytics; Pivotal Labs has been centered on agile software development services and tools. VFabric focuses on enterprise Java development and includes SpringSource's Spring Java framework and Gemfire data management technologies. Cloud Foundry is a platform-as-a-service cloud effort, while Ceta has offered big data analytics. Leading Pivotal will be Paul Maritz, chief strategy officer at EMC.

"It looks that EMC has finally admitted it needs a better approach for courting developers and is doing something significant to fix this," says analyst James Staten, of Forrester Research, in a blog post. "No longer will key assets like Greenplum, Pivotal, or Spring flounder in a corporate culture dominated by infrastructure thinking and selling."

The initiative has been anticipated for weeks, IDC analyst Al Hilwa says. "The idea of grouping all the application development and deployment-related technologies in one division, apart from virtualization, is a sound one. Placing it with EMC allows VMware to maximize its virtualization opportunities with other platform players, which is, after all, how it is used in customer data centers."

Maritz, Hilwa says, has the skill, know-how, and passion to drive Pivotal effectively. Going to market with the Pivotal portfolio provides better cover to monetize some of the front-end technology with more marketable back-end software and services, Hilwa adds: "Overall, a good and appropriate initiative to build on what these guys have accomplished with the innovative and well-received Cloud Foundry technology and a good strategic home for the SpringSource and Gemstone assets."

But Staten cited the vagueness of Pivotal Initiative so far. The companies, he says, "didn't officially announce a spinout or even the creation of a new division. Nor did it clearly identify the role of [Maritz] will play in this new gathering." The companies did clarify what assets would be included as part of Pivotal, Staten notes. He expressed hope that the Pivotal effort would focus on cloud-based delivery rather than traditional on-premise, licensed software.

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Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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