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GE Joins EMC and VMware in a Joint Venture to Challenge Software Megavendors in the Cloud

Pivotal, a company recently spun out of assets of EMC and VMware, was introduced today as a power behind Pivotal One, a new cloud-enabled application platform (CEAP) for private cloud initiatives and public cloud providers. It will also run a public Platform as a Services (PaaS) for IT organizations and independent software vendors (ISVs) looking to deploy application services in a public cloud. Pivotal also announced its strategic partnership with GE which committed to take a 10 percent equity position in the new company.

Yefim Natis, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner, answered some questions on the outlook for, and impact of, Pivotal:

Q – What sort of opportunity does Pivotal offer?

A – Pivotal has a bold vision to bring the best of the Web and cloud architecture to mainstream enterprises. It has committed leadership and an ambitious sponsor (EMC), but a long road to reach its goals. The outcome will impact the market and the strategic choices available to enterprise IT planners.

The separation of application infrastructure technologies (Pivotal) from systems infrastructure (the remaining VMware assets) will present IT planners with a new ambitious, visionary and focused vendor competing to offer the platform of choice for a spectrum of next-generation enterprise application projects.

The new generation of applications, for which Pivotal hopes to offer a native foundation, will be modeled on the transformational IT characteristics of the leading cloud and Web companies, such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon.com and salesforce.com. Pivotal's declared mission is to democratize these innovations and make them available to enterprise IT architects and innovative ISVs.

Q – How does the general direction of the company look? Are there areas for improvement?

A – Although the general direction of the company is promising, some notable components that are essential to a comprehensive cloud computing platform are missing. There is no integration technology. Integration of data, applications, cloud and Web services, partners and event streams is an essential element of any such environment. Pivotal will find that its customers demand that capability.

The vision for Pivotal platform rightly highlights rapid application development as a key required characteristic. Yet, the current composition of technologies does not include a high-productivity development platform. The foundation of Pivotal's application platform, the CloudFoundry CEAP and PaaS, is using a cloud-basedmodel of elasticity, preserving compatibility with many enterprise Java applications. Offering Java or Ruby frameworks as the primary programming model is a far cry in productivity from the cloud-native metadata-driven application PaaS (aPaaS).

When IT leaders talk about a platform for the next-generation applications, the discussion often circles around the Nexus of Forces: cloud, mobile, social and information derived from big data analytics. Pivotal has put stakes in the ground for the cloud and information initiatives, but social and mobile are still to be integrated into the vision and the product.

Without the social and mobile technologies, Pivotal will not only be unable to support some of the most active areas of recent innovation, but also will not discover the capabilities that arise in the nexus, from the relationship among the four forces. An application infrastructure company in 2013 can hardly claim the mantle of an innovator without an investment in all four components of the Nexus of Forces.

Q - How will the GE investment in Pivotal affect the company’s development?

A - Partnerships are a critical component to Pivotal’s success and this is a notable one. GE Global Software organization has aggressive and visionary plans to lead the development of what they call “Industrial Internet” – the Internet where industrial devices, enterprise systems and people operate in a coordinated manner to deliver a new level of intelligence, efficiency and service. GE knows devices, Pivotal knows software and the cultures of the two software organizations share the focus on innovation. So the partnership has promise, but it is unlikely that the relatively small Pivotal would meet all requirements of GE. The challenge to Pivotal will be to invest in solutions that serve GE without getting distracted from its own key objectives.

Q – What is the current outlook for Pivotal?

A – The objective to provide mainstream IT organizations with the transformational model of IT that drives the Internet, Web and cloud innovation is intriguing and, if well-executed, can propel Pivotal into a strong position in the cloud platform market. However, considerable functionality will have to be developed, acquired and integrated into the platform before it can claim victory. Success will depend on strong execution; continuing access to capital; the new company's ability to operate in a coordinated and focused manner, despite its diverse origins; and its ability to attract partners (especially anchor SaaS ISVs), innovative startups and mainstream IT organizations.

Additional information on Gartner’s take on the launch of Pivotal can be found in the research note “EMC and VMware Form Pivotal to Challenge Software Megavendors in the Cloud” on Gartner’s website at http://www.gartner.com/resId=2406515.

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