Talking Pivotal Cloud Foundry 1.6 With James Watters

November 4, 2015 Coté

sfeatured-podcastWith a new version of Pivotal Cloud Foundry® (PCF) out, I wanted to catch up with James Watters to discuss what our customers are up to. We discuss the focus on application architecture and development that we’ve been seeing out in the field. Last we talked, much of the focus was on the infrastructure layer, and while this release has plenty of that, Spring Boot and Spring Cloud are some of the more interesting features in this release. So, we discuss the more developer-centric context that PCF is running around in now.

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Coté:
Hey, James. How’s it going?

James Watters:
Hey, Mr. Coté, it’s a pretty excellent morning here in New York City.

Coté:
I heard that you had an experience of using a regular cab. How did that go? Uber is a trope, if you will, of representing our company. Almost metaphorically you got to go experience what the old school way of doing stuff. I think it’s a good analogy. How did it pan out? How’s the technology in there?

James Watters:
I hit a wall last night. I take great pride that I travel a lot, but I never complained about traveling on Twitter because it’s like this default that my whole Twitter stream is full of extremely well paid people complaining about travel—small travel inconveniences.

Coté: Right, right.

James Watters:
I can’t believe that an important person like me is forced to wait for peanuts, you know what I mean, these kind of tweets.

Coté:
Dear God, this scotch is only 18 years old. I don’t know how I’ll cope.

James Watters:
Exactly, and so I’ve always tried really hard. That is the death of interesting information to share, but after a long delay I got into JFK at 3 am and I am addicted to Uber. I fully admit it, I Uber everywhere, I really never use my car. I am a San Francisco person and I try to connect. I restarted my phone, I try to connect. I think their authentication service was just down and it was down for about 20 minutes last night in New York. I crawled into the back of one of these yellow things and as you described it’s like a hamster cage with a plastic wall.

Coté:
Exactly, but there’s no tubes. It’s just a square cage, the starter set.

James Watters:
Yeah, yeah, and it was funny because my whole quest is hey, telling the world about reliable, next generation cloud software. We say software’s eating the world, Uber’s out to get you and last night Uber had some issues scaling their software, so no one’s perfect. I’ve actually heard that they’re refreshing their tech team there and it’s often the case sometimes you get one hit app and you’re not amazing at scaling it forever. Remember when Twitter came out, they had a killer app, but not a killer tech back-end yet.

Coté:
Yes, those were fun times.

James Watters:
The whale.

Coté:
That’s right, that’s right. Yeah, I spend a lot of time when I’m traipsing about with the various, I don’t know, one would call them enterprise teams and groups that I talk with. I have this conflicting notion in my head that there’s something valuable in the idea of fail fast, but I don’t think you necessarily get permission to do that for years on end, right. There’s a lot of tolerance that you’re given at first to learn how to do things and then there’s an expectation of just executing seamlessly. Yeah, that’s a very paradoxical notion that’s almost like … It almost has a zen quality of how you react to it ongoing as more of a Rorschach test about what you should be doing is the idea of failure equals learning, if that resonates with you or sounds scary, but it’s good calisthenics to put your mind through.

James Watters:
Yeah, I would say in the cloud you want to fail fast and then heal exceptionally fast.

Coté:
That’s right, fail faster and fix faster than that.

James Watters:
If I had after having started restarting my phone and tried to connect for the third time gotten through I think I’d totally forgive the situation, right. I’m like oh, they had a momentary blip, the thing self-healed.

Coté:
Exactly, yeah, I always try to say instead of up-time, I try to focus on resilience. You want to be able to bounce back quickly.

James Watters:
That’s right.

Coté:
We were getting together today, we have a new release of Pivotal Cloud Foundry® or as we might slip into a PCF coming out, version 1.6. We have a flurry of details out there about what’s in it and there’s a bevy of features. I was just watching an internal webinar we have and it’s chalk full, but what I want to talk to you about is … I’ve been here since January of this year and we recorded a podcast back in May, I think, or when we had 1.4 out.

James Watters:
That’s right.

Coté:
I feel like so much has evolved since then and a huge part of what’s evolved is … what I feel like what people, what our customers are looking for, right. I don’t go out as much as you do and get trapped in hamster cages as it were, but when I go out and talk with people even over that short amount of time the problems that they’re looking to solve have very rapidly moved up the stack.

What I mean by that is back when I was at 451 and even doing M&A stuff at Dell when I was there before that much of the focus on cloud was basically on just getting your infrastructure up and running and almost the coolness of that and getting all your stuff going. You still hear a lot of conversation about that like container scheduling and orchestration and sorting out what that is. To a limited extent like people that I talk with nowadays at large organizations still go over that, but very rapidly once they’re assured that you have the infrastructure they’re actually more interested in just, I don’t know, what you might call good old fashioned application development.

James Watters:
Yeah, old time ALM.

Coté:
That’s right, exactly. That’s a good pull because I find myself saying ALM, do you remember ALM and then the second level of seeing if they remember App Dev stuff. Like do you know what SDLC is? Do you remember that? Anyways, so again even when I joined Pivotal back then that conversation was still very ops-centric and infrastructure-centric. And looking over what I would call the major features that we have in PCF 1.6, it’s interesting that things like Spring Boot and Spring Cloud depending on what product manage you are and things like that, they arguably dominate the interesting-ness of what’s in there because they’re enabling doing cloud native application development.

That’s my monologue to a question. I think you’re in an interesting position being basically the GM of all of this, the general manager of all this. To go over is … I wanted you to walk us through the story of how we got in the short amount of time from basically the ops lair of stuff all the way up to basically things like Boot and Cloud being what I think is one of the main centerpieces of what we’re doing with PCF.

James Watters:
Yeah, it’s been a really fun transition. The thing I’d say is that I think we got smarter and customers are getting smarter and the market is slowly getting smarter. That the automation problem they were trying to solve is best to trace it back to its root cause. I think what’s happened and I’m working on a personal blog about this. Help me, I’m not the writer that you are, Michael. I challenge myself to share my own thoughts independent of the company I work for and the products I work on, but what’s really going on out in the market.

At a really high meta-layer when I think about it at least it’s sort of like SAS software came along and tried effectively to take away a lot of the very undifferentiated software and have other people operate it for you, right. You can go to Workday now, you can to Salesforce, you can use all kinds of SaaS apps concur and you can run a lot of your business … You’re at Pivotal now, we don’t do a lot of app hosting internally, right. Can you think of an app that we use that’s run by IT?

Coté:
No, no, as a testament to that I’m very familiar with the Okta supposed single sign on screen.

James Watters:
The Okta, please verify Google authenticator again please, sir.

Coté:
Yep, but that’s just symptomatic of the point is that we do have some on premise stuff that’s our own software, things that we do on our own, but I’m pretty sure most all of our back-end is all SaaSified.

James Watters:
That’s right, so when we started Pivotal we were like hey, let’s pretend like we’re starting … Not pretend, let’s do a blank slate, we’re starting a new company here. It happened to be a spin-out of some big, existing companies, but we really went greenfield with IT. What you end up seeing is you see that a lot of what IT used to do is just … I joke when I started at Sun Microsystems back in the dark ages in 2001 that my first day of work—I talk about this at SpringOne—my first day of work I was all excited. I’d been into java development and really cared about that and I thought all this can change the world and I got a job at the Big Dog Sun. I was so happy. I was doing this rotation where they show you different things that happened at Sun, it was cool.

I was like, okay, first day what are we going to go do this week? They’re like, well, we’re going to do with this customer the server sizing assessment. I said what? I said, well, we’re going to spend the next six weeks assessing how big of a server they should buy for this app they’re writing. There’s this very crawling, plotting, 18-month pace to everything that was happening back then because a lot of IT exists in a world where they spend 12 months or 18 months standing up to PeopleSoft or standing up Oracle, E-Business or any of these big suites that are now often thought as SaaS. A lot of IT was really about how do you automate or how do you control all of these off the shelf pieces of software that come your way, right.

Coté:
Right.

James Watters:
When I think back to root causes that’s what got … That’s the transition we’re in right now is that the blog I want to write is called life after SaaS which is like … IT’s job now is more and more and more going to be run the differentiating software that that company wrote. If IT continues to exist it’s facilitating security for SaaS and access and then helping run the software that the company wrote. Then the question is is that now that you have an opportunity to focus on that and really focus on it and we learned everything we’ve learned since the early 2000s, are there patterns of software development that enable hyper-efficient, continuous delivery and scale? I think the answer is yes, right, and I think that’s why we’ve really started to focus on, okay, now your job is to run custom software. How do you do that and how do you think about that holistically?

Coté:
Exactly, I think that’s the … I reduce this down to an equation. It’s not a real equation, but I write it up as IT minus SaaS equals what? You just basically define the what, right? That once you remove SaaS from the big world of IT what’s left to do and what’s left to do is … Arguably you’ve got to set up the network and maybe there’s some desktop management, but that ruins my story, so I ignore that part. Essentially it brings up, well, there’s writing your own software.

I think that is … We at Pivotal have always been on about you should be really good at writing software, right, because that’s what we sell and that’s what people want to use us for is the ability to do your custom software, but with the framing that you are walking us into it becomes clear that that is what IT is basically important for now other than just outsourcing your stuff to SaaS. I think yeah, that framing tends to resonate pretty well with people. The thing that I find, tell me if you find this as well, but once you walk someone through to that you almost have to have them unlearn their IT behavior and practices of the past. The way that I tend to frame this is for a long time IT’s job was about optimizing how all that on premise IT was run, right?

We being part of the EMC Federation directly benefited from that with VMware, right? VMware conquered that and essentially optimized a huge part of how IT was run and now that IT … There’s ways of optimizing how IT’s run and then you also have SaaS. The next ten years or whatever is returning back to writing your own software. I think not all companies are like this, but a lot of large organizations that I end up talking with have forgotten that craft. They need to return back to how to start doing software and then as … A lot of what we provide is they need the frameworks and the actual tools that help them do it.

James Watters:
Yeah, and I think that there were pockets of people in those companies that knew how to do it, but what happens is that when you treated every app deployment and every off the shelf app management like its own project, right? It all got some build out and this is where the world of trouble tickets and everything came from, right, pre-cloud essentially. Everything was a one-off and, therefore, every custom developed app was treated as a one-off and got its own environment however it wanted.

I spent Monday with a really talented team of banking CIOs from one of the top 10 banks and their challenge was that every … They’re trying to build a cloud really to run all these things at massive scale and have a ton of custom software, massive amounts of it. In the past because of the mix between running off the shelf and running custom there was not attention to unifying custom and the way a company like Facebook or Google or Netflix would pay hyper-attention to the infrastructure for every custom app. What happened was every business came with them with a different way of doing everything.

Not to plug our stuff too much, but when they found out about Spring Boot which is a way of writing next generation job applications without a lot of variations in terms of how the application and server environment are set up, a very homogeneous approach to it, they were thrilled. That’s where a lot of our businesses come now just from getting to the app dev teams. There were some beautiful tweets from Comcast and they were public about it.

We started teaching them Spring Boot and Spring Cloud. They’re like, wow, this is really exciting and this is a better way to write custom software and then the hidden surprise and the hidden treat and what makes Pivotal such a special company now is that then there’s a platform that can operate that at super efficiency, high availability. It really is, I do think a new way of looking at things holistically from the app team the whole way down to the OS.

Coté:
I think there’s another way I’ve been metaphorizing in my head is that the … There’s been a lot of effort in software and innovation and work as it were put into automating and perfecting how you operate infrastructure, right? I’m on this podcast, some cloud podcast later today and I know they’re going to ask me what the cloud is. I’ve been thinking about what answer I’m going to give them. I should probably have a pat answer I give to everyone at this point.

James Watters:
I don’t know what I’d say.

Coté:
No.

James Watters:
That’s a good question at this point.

Coté:
Exactly, it’s a question of … I’ve been studying this for six years and every day I get more confused in a good way. It’s sort of like … Anyways, it’s an expert problem I guess. It’s like asking what poetry is or something.

James Watters:

Right.

Coté:
I think a large part of it is at the infrastructure layer again you basically standardize and automate as much as possible, so that you’re not manually setting up and managing your infrastructure. You always need to manually do some things, but the big thing that cloud at the infrastructure layer tends to do is just automate lots of stuff and remove variability. The benefit you get from there is it’s easier to manage and if it’s easier to manage you can do things with it faster.

What I’ve been looking at, the rise in importance of Spring Boot and Spring Cloud, I’ve been thinking and you launched me on this tangent with your explanation of people reacting to it is we’re almost bringing that notion to the application development middleware layer where instead of developers coming up with every time they do a new project or a product, a new way of operationalizing their middleware services, the fully integrated stack that we have and how Spring Boot and Spring Cloud fit into it essentially standardizes that. Then you don’t have to worry about how you hook together all these microservices and manage them and how you use something like Spring Boot to package up the services that you have.

I think in this IT minus SaaS equals what sort of world, it’s almost like that starts to be the job that operation needs to do is how do I run this middleware which I don’t think is really a conversation that’s happened in IT land in a long time. How do I run that software? It’s always been customized in one-off. I don’t know, I feel a lot of what we’re doing in 1.6 is getting towards that. Here’s a standard set of middleware. Well, it’s not even a standard set of middleware. Here’s a standard way to run middleware that allows you to not worry about how you operationalize it and run it.

James Watters:
In fact, I think the great thing and I think where people have tried to come at this before was they picked seven templates of middleware. Here’s seven formatted VMs, we call this IaaS Plus that you’re allowed to choose from. Then they just handed those VMs with that middleware on it to the teams. That’s not really middleware as a service, right? You’re like how would I bind service discovery to one of these nodes, so that it can find the other ones. That’s left to the developer to think about.

Coté:
Yeah, those were just … To use our metaphor those are just hamster cages you’re putting people in. It doesn’t really let them create outside of the hamster cage.

James Watters:
I think having gone through the pain of looking at that glass, yes, that’s not fun to look at that glass. It’s sort of like hey, this is a little limiting. That’s where IT got a bad reputation. No one wanted what IT gave them. I think people have been really excited because we’ve become something that developers get excited about getting from IT to put it in a simple sentence.

Coté:
Yeah, no, I think that’s definitely the case. There’s another aspect. Let’s go back to the … We were joking about ALM and SDLC and that’s another clutch of things we’ve been doing now. In the cloud area I would almost call the type of work we’ve been doing there almost a reference architecture that’s integrated. We have an opinionated tool chain that you could put in place end to end of what you would need for your whole ALM process essentially.

James Watters:
Yeah, let’s get explicit in the 1.6 release in November. We’ve integrated three partners, GitLab, Artifactory, and CloudBees Jenkins and we’re also bringing Pivotal Tracker by the way which is not an external, but it’s part of the ALM process that Pivotal Labs is so good at, directly to the platform in a turnkey way. We’ve done the same thing which is we’ve brought cloud automation, scaling, unified identity management, etc., to all of these things such that you just push a button on the platform and now you’ve got a scalable, high availability version control system integrated into your platform with GitLab right there.

We’re taking it even to the more extreme end and I think people get that they just want to write code and then hand it to a system. I think everyone gets that and in a sense Cloud Foundry’s always been about that. Here’s my code, run in the cloud for me, I don’t how care how is the beautiful little haiku that Onsi wrote about it. There’s something that happens before you got that code already packaged and ready to deploy and those things look like version control artifact and build management and CI systems. That’s what we’ve had to add to the system, so now you can come from your very first moment of composition in GitLab end to end on the system. I think again that’s really focusing on look, our job is to deliver custom software, so let’s not leave a rock unturned in helping you do that.

Coté:
Yeah, and I think it’s also … It’ll be fun to see how we evolve it over the next year essentially and more importantly how people use it and adapt it and how it pans out, but it is … We talk a lot about you should treat your continuous delivery pipeline as a factory. That’s your primary asset essentially that allows you to produce things. It’ll be fun to see what having a unified end-to-end thing looks like and essentially how that evolves because up until now … Arguably if you were let’s say a Microsoft developer historically you had your MSDN CDs and you just had everything, everything from one source all integrated, it all fits together.

James Watters:
That’s why even though they were a close source and expensive they did well for a while.

Coté:
Exactly, and it’ll be fun to see if we can bring that beneficial best practice into the general world, right? If we can have a fully integrated pipe end to end because man, you can spend a lot of time integrating that together and basically waste a lot of time on all the differences between all the installs of it.

James Watters:
I talked to one customer. They’re like we have five version control systems, five build systems and all of it runs through custom trouble ticket deployments with IT in the middle. We have some code running in production and this is the line that terrified me and we’re not sure how it got there. We don’t know what maze through these systems it took to get there.

Coté:
Yeah, yeah, my cherished anecdote along that line is I remember I was talking with someone at a large company and I had to slow them down the conversation. Let me just explain back to you what I think you just said. You basically wrote a chef script to open up a ticket for this part of your build pipeline, right? In order to automate the whole pipeline there’s still a helpdesk involved and you fully automated that and indeed that’s what they had done. It’s that motley chain and with all of this stuff, once you optimize the full end to end process I think there’s interesting and new benefits that only the unicorns or whatever have appreciated that will be bringing to the rest of the world.

James Watters:
Yeah, and I think one thing maybe you could talk about is Home Depot gave a great presentation in Colorado which I unfortunately didn’t get to see. I’m definitely going to post the video of it. They’re all in on Cloud Foundry. It’s growing really rapidly at Home Depot and the presentations are even like hey, we ran out of capacity on our cluster, but that’s winning to us. When we realized that we needed to add a bunch of capacity that was a big moment for us because we’re … They’ve gotten to the point where they realized that every instance that they run on CF is in the order of magnitude or two orders of magnitude more efficient than any other system they have.

Coté:
Right.

James Watters:
Whatever’s there is goodness, but they were benchmarking themselves. We can now push apps through this system end to end in 15 seconds, but why does it take us 4.5 hours to deploy sometimes?

Coté:
Right.

James Watters:
What they found was is there were still people who wanted to do manual checks or manual steps or tickets or something even now that the process is completely transparent and automated. This leads me to our ambitions with what we want to do in the future releases which is … I don’t know if you’ve seen, have you seen our new APM demo where the app performs real time metrics and stuff?

Coté:
Yeah, yeah. Well, yeah, I’ve seen that. You’ve also demoed some good stuff on some Cloud Native After Dark here and there.

James Watters:
Yeah, I was playing around with the newest version of it for the first time on Cloud Native After Dark. You could tell because I was learning about it. The thing I see in the future is is that before we used to count on human judgment for better or for worse about these deployments and then often times even then we’d have 30 people or a lot of people ready to do the deploy, a major deploy, so that if it needed to be rolled back or firefighting we can send humans into the blaze once more onto the breach as they said in Henry the Fifth.

The thing for me is that Netflix doesn’t do that. If you went and talked … There’s an awesome article on Pivotal, a collaboration between Pivotal and Netflix. While they did endorse Spring Boot and Spring Cloud in a completely authoritative way, they’re like we run Netflix on Spring Boot and Spring Cloud for our group. They also said by the way, our atlas metric system is the only way we go this fast because you can’t go fast with your deploys if you don’t have a metric system constantly telling you immediately in real time about how things are behaving and the ability to shape traffic out a little bit at a time.

I do think that if you think about these cultural transitions from human judgment and big team and go slow and use a lot of humans to go fast, until we really start to perfect this metric system as well people are still going to … Even though the system can go fast you still want that insight into it. I think that’s an important thing for us to continue to bring to market. I’m excited about that alpha code that’s there and it’s going to be in the product very soon.

Coté:
Yeah, and I think that connects with another, I don’t know, message or philosophic take on all of this. That I find myself and ourselves collectively having to get across to people is if you want to be a software producing company or good at software one of the best practices of software companies is that they don’t necessarily use just random, off the shelf ways of monitoring and managing their stuff. They really do instrument and they need to have a very good … Their applications have to have a good understanding of how you’re monitoring it and looking at it.

You should expect from vendors like us and for the people who are producing this software to actually be providing you ways of monitoring and managing it, right. We have good partnerships with New Relic and AppDynamics and all sorts of other people who can plug it in and monitor things, but you’re going to need to spend a fair amount of time doing customized instrumentation because you’re running that software. It’s not just like the old days of just running some ping stuff and monitoring it. It becomes part of the core competency operating it and so that stuff should probably be baked in the platform more and more.

James Watters:
I just want to change what a deploy looks like and a deploy should be a share of traffic, not 100%. You should be learning about your new code in real time. You should have real time metrics about what’s happening such that you don’t have some sort of oh, I’ve got to wait five minutes to see what our APM told me it has. You should be able to then automatically shave on more and more traffic. Now part of this gets into how you design your software, too, in terms of backwards compatible APIs that you can roll the software out, roll it back if you need to. That’s important.

I think AppDynamics, even though we’re going to have the basics of APM in the product, I think over time there’s always room for them to give even more advanced moon-based metrics about what’s happening. I think I just want to make this very turnkey over time such that the deployment is always enriched by metrics because I think that’s just like you flew here last night. You’re not counting on a human anymore as much to fly your plane. The computer’s making judgments and I just think software can get to the same place where hey, this deploys working. There should be a computer telling you how it’s going.

Coté:
I think before we close out you brought up the Home Depot and I think it’d be good to go over customer and momentum that we’ve had since last we talked to close out with. You’re touching on another notion that I found myself talking with people a lot about where … To start at the end to get to the beginning they ask a lot of questions where annoyingly for them the answer is yeah, you don’t really worry about that anymore, right? I think it gets to this notion you’re metaphorizing to an airplane is with the right kind of cloud platform in place, you can actually start trusting the system a lot more than you used to trust it, right? You don’t need that team of people there ready to put out the fire when you do something.

It takes a lot … You’ve been around since the beginning, we’ve been working on this platform for a long time to get to this point, but essentially once you have a trusted platform in place there’s all this part of your process and the way you’re thinking about it that turns out to be waste in the here and now, things you don’t have to do anymore. Then you can start to move faster and trust the system more. I think a lot of the hurdles that get thrown in front of us before people are comfortable getting into that environment has to do with establishing and trusting that the system is actually going to run and operate correctly which is a nice thing to get them to.

James Watters:
Yeah, and I think that’s where dev ops teams were stranded for a little bit before they had a robust structured platform with these kinds of metrics which is that they were seen as going faster, but not necessarily being safer.

Coté:
Exactly, that’s right. People would use a word like cowboy in there a lot.

James Watters:
Yeah, and in some ways maybe that was the necessary exploration phase, but at mega scale you’ve got to know that these big companies like Netflix, they got the thing instrumented to the ninth degree. In fact, they even said that their cloud platform is really just a metric system in disguise. That’s mostly what it is because to our point about cloud and not about poetry, once you … Cloud’s a set of scalable primitives, right? That’s what I believe and scalable primitives for running software and delivering platform as a service, but of these scalable primitives, so you have all these scalable primitives which you can muster into existence be it VM, be it a container, be it at load balancing in seconds.

The question is how do you orchestrate all of that over time and it’s got to be with data, right. You can’t just have humans going oh, that looks about right. I think that’s a very interesting future is just like the degree of integrated metrics now that we’ve made the deployment and life cycle operations in the app boring. That’s great, but then how do you learn more and more and how does that app fundamentally drive an experience for someone at the other end is the ultimate reason it exists. The performance and metrics of it is the fun part I think.

Coté:
Indeed. Actually observing and seeing how your stuff is operating in production or in the wild is … That’s the thing I try to emphasize to people is continuous delivery is great, but if you ignore that feedback loop you’re just burning opportunity essentially, right? You want to observe how things are working and what people are doing with it, so that you can improve the software, not just get up-time and have it running. That’ll be the exciting thing to see panning out. That gets to the last point, right? I remember one of the more enjoyable aspects of the job is because of the type of customers we have, not all of them, are companies that you deal with every day. All of them are regular, real companies and so I remember watching our lead up to basically the Home Depot using us and doing that presentation you were talking about.

It’s exciting because I go there every other weekend and you see this across all sorts of … the types of customers that we have. That’s one thing that I wanted to close out with is so how would … Go over the types of new customers we’ve been signing up and what that’s looking like at the moment because I get asked this question a lot being a former analyst. People often ask me to characterize what the market share is of Pivotal or how we’re doing out there. So far there hasn’t been a lot of great analysts writing up to answer that question, so it kind of behooves us to define who’s buying this and what that market looks like. I think you would have a good take on that.

James Watters:
Yeah, I think that it’s been really interesting to see how strong our growth has been in the Fortune I’d call it 200 and even 100 because if you think about the people that have an at scale problem, right, they’re not like running an in app, right? They want to deliver end number of apps and they also are transitioning from a period where they were doing a lot of the spoke IT of the kind we talked about before, so they have a very traditional IT organization.

Our platform offers a huge instant arbitrage for their ability to deliver custom software especially when combined with something like Spring Boot. We come in and they’re like, wow, so this is how we build and run custom software at scale. The other company I mentioned there was Comcast. That’s another daily brand. In fact, my fun game that I play with myself when I’m on the road is I look at names on buildings and I keep track of market share. How do I keep track of market share?

Coté:
Right.

James Watters:
I’m pretty competitive and so any time I drive by a … My quote is if you’re big enough to have your name on a building you’re big enough for Cloud Foundry. I keep track of the market share of names I see on buildings versus how we’re doing. On my ride into the hotel last night late from JFK a really remarkable number of the banks and major businesses of New York City that have their brands out as I drove by, it was PCF customer, PCF customer, PCF customer. It’s getting better, it’s getting pretty neat. There’s a lot of momentum there and especially when you think about the Fortune 200 and those kinds of customers.

I think specifically what’s been happening though is if I were to characterizing it in some depth is banking has been facing an efficiency crisis, so the reason we become pretty popular in banking is people realize that they used to be so successful. I don’t know if you remember pre-2008, how much banking people made and how lucrative a business it was, right? They had all the money in the world to throw at every project, so guess what, every project got its own IT team, right, its own everything. They’re coming from an era of vast heterogeneity, very privileged heterogeneity in a sense. They’re looking at this and going we’re not being valued quite as much as we used to and we actually need to take some money out of this and we need to be efficient.

To some extent they also wanted to digitally differentiate themselves and customer experiences, too. I think they’re having that hangover moment when the chicken walks by and they’re like wow, we can be a little bit more efficient here. I think there’s been some unbelievable traction in the top 10 banks in the world with PCF. In fact, that’s how I’m spending my next two weeks, seeing about six of them because of the need to drive digital consumer experiences as well as get more efficient.

One of the coolest things that’s happening is that we’ve got this one, two punch going on in banking where we’re teaching their developers Spring Boot for all the new apps. Then we also started to actually go through their Java estates and say what could you run in a more of a Spring Boot fashion if we did a light migration. It turns out a lot of these apps that were written with these heavyweight app servers actually only used the same server interfaces that modern Cloud Native apps used. They had too much extra boilerplate around them, so we’re actually migrating with some of those for customers and that’s really exciting because that allows them to get critical mass in the platform.

Coté:
Right.

James Watters:
Then the third thing that we’re developing in that case is that a lot of banking needs a lot of integration work. We launched TIBCO BusinessWorks on Cloud Foundry that’s heavily used by a bunch of the big banks, so that their integration and enterprise service bus is actually able to be run in a Cloud Native way. Some of those customers don’t even like that pattern anymore and now they’re starting to use Spring Cloud Data Flow to enable integration and lightweight data microservices. It’s sort of like this one, two, three punch in those environments where we teach their developers Spring Boot. We help them migrate apps that might not have needed all the heavyweight boilerplate that they have.

Then we’re also even starting to work on some of their integration use cases all on top of PCF and frankly Spring Boot. That’s been fun. Auto manufacturing is another place I’d highlight where you saw we launched a Mercedes Me app on PCF with Spring Boot, that was incredible. I’d say similar to banking, some high percentage of the top 10 auto manufacturers are working with us and the reason is they’ve got this whole connected car initiative hitting them. They’re going through exactly what you and I talked about which is how do we become good at running software, really good?

Coté:
Yeah.

James Watters:
There is a fight right now between Mercedes and BMW for their best connected car app. When you talk to those teams it is like a hockey fight, it’s a match. They’re like we’re going to write a better app and we’re going to have a better connected experience, so it’s become an existential part of their product development. Those are just two that obviously in retail we’ve seen a lot of growth with … Both Kroger and Home Depot have spoken about their adoption of Cloud Foundry and we’re heavy at SpringOne when I was there wondering about Cloud Native platforms and frameworks as well.

Those industries each have their own challenges. I think retail always wants efficiency, but now they’re trying to do new product development and delivery, digital outreach, marketing, etc. Just those three industries, but those are a lot of the things you drive by when you go down the street, right? You’re like, okay, a car dealer, a bank, a big retailer. Those are the experiences we all have every day.

Coté:
Yeah, and for me personally, what’s exciting about it is for the most part the goals of all those companies is making their software better, the software I’ll end up using, so it directly benefits me essentially, that they can improve the way I interact with those companies. It’ll turn out to be quite nice, essentially.

James Watters:
Yeah, and most importantly just to close on this, it gives my fiancé credibility because when you work …

Coté:
That’s right.

James Watters:
When you work on complex in data center software people have a hard time figuring out what you do, but she hears the calls I’m on and the names that I’m talking about a lot now and so we drive by and she’s like oh, yeah, Home Depot, I’ve heard of that.

Coté:
Exactly. It’s going to be a much more thrilling holiday season explaining to the relatives what it is I do exactly.

James Watters:
Exactly, relevance.

Coté:
Exactly, that’s good stuff. I think this is a good catching up around the PCF 1.6 release. We hit upon some of the major items there and there’s plenty of … We’ll put in the show notes for this podcast. There’s plenty of details about all the little and big stuff in there beyond the context that James and I were talking about. Thanks for making the time there often. I always enjoy the madmen Manhattan background noise of New York, right, just floating around in the back there.

James Watters:
It’s fun to do this one just to close out overlooking Union Square Park and the people coming and going in New York. As a San Francisco person it’s still exotic enough for me to see this kind of fun.

Coté:
Exactly, and so thanks for listening everyone. You can find all the show notes and everything that we have if you go to Pivotal.IO/podcast with an S or without an S and with that we’ll see everyone next time.

About the Author

Biography

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