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GE Takes 10 Percent Stake in Pivotal PaaS for Its Industrial Internet

Pivotal, the company spun out of VMware and its parent EMC, officially opened for business last week, announcing its Platform as a Service (PaaS) cloud and a $105 million investment from GE.

Headed by former VMware CEO Paul Maritz, Pivotal sees a market now worth $8 billion that will grow to $20 billion over the next five years. More notably, at the GigaOM Structure Data conference in New York a few weeks back, Maritz said Pivotal is already a $300 million business that can grow to $1 billion in revenues by 2017.

EMC and VMware kickstarted Pivotal with its own $400 million, and GE plans to use its $105 million stake not just as an investor but to use its PaaS offering to develop its own Industrial Internet, which aims to take data from machines, sensors and components and use this big data for more efficient and intelligent decision-making and automation.

Why is GE making this big bet on Pivotal? Machines across its various lines of business -- from health care equipment to aircraft engine components, among others -- need to be more intelligent and connected so its software can analyze data coming from them, according to Bill Ruh, VP and corporate officer for the GE Global Software Center. That's the notion behind GE's Industrial Internet, which is its term for the so-called Internet of Things.

"To support this next frontier requires an architectural shift in how our services are built and delivered," Ruh said in a statement. "Pivotal is creating a platform that brings the best of the Internet -- rapid application development, data analytics and cloud architecture -- to enterprises. This is aligned with many of the things we are doing at GE to help accelerate our delivery of innovation, and to bring a productivity revolution that will have a positive impact on all of us."

When EMC and VMware spun out Pivotal, among the assets they brought to the new venture included the Greenplum analytics platform that is now Hadoop-based; the Cetas real-time analytics engine; GemFire, a cloud-based data management platform for high speed transaction processing often used in trading applications; Cloud Foundry, the Java-based Spring Framework; and Pivotal Labs, the destination of many customers looking to take business problems from concept to a deliverable application.

While Pivotal had its coming-out party last week, the first deliverable from its effort came in February. Based on its own Hadoop distribution, Pivotal HD is aiming to expand the capabilities of the store with HAWQ, a high-performance Hadoop-baased RDMS. It offers a Command Center to manage HDFS, HAWQ and MapReduce, as well as its Integrated Configuration Management (ICM) tool to administer Hadoop clusters and Spring Hadoop, tying it into the company's Java-based Spring Framework. It also includes Spring Batch, to simplify job management and execution.

Pivotal revealed it has 1,250 employees, which includes more than 700 engineers who are experts in such areas as agile and rapid application development, data science, cloud, open source, distributed computing, large-scale parallel processing and real-time data analytics.

As part of last week's launch, the company also outlined its new PaaS, called Pivotal One, which the company said will be designed to give developers a productive developer platform that is cloud-agnostic. It will also connect legacy systems to modern data architectures, the company said.

The platform includes Pivotal Data Fabric, based on the aforementioned Pivotal HD. It also includes the Pivotal Cloud and Application Platform, based on Cloud Foundry and the Java-based Spring environment. It will include the Pivotal Application Fabric, which will support rapid app development, messaging, database services and analytic and visualization tools.

Gartner distinguished analyst Yefim Natis said in a prepared press Q&A that Pivotal is off to a strong start but has challenges ahead. "Pivotal has a bold vision to bring the best of the Web and cloud architecture to mainstream enterprises," Natis noted. "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."

Natis warned the Pivotal cloud is far from complete. "There is no integration technology," he noted. "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."

Also lacking is a viable development platform, according to Natis. "The current composition of technologies does not include a high-productivity development platform," he noted. "The foundation of Pivotal's application platform, the CloudFoundry CEAP and PaaS, is using a cloud-based model 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)."

Pivotal also needs to flesh out its mobile and social story, Natis pointed out. "Without the social and mobile technologies, Pivotal will not only be unable to support some of the most active areas of recent innovation."

Finally, Natis said its success will depend on execution, continued access to capital, the ability to tie together its diverse "origins," success in attracting partners -- notably Software as a Service (SaaS) ISVs -- and, of course, reeling in more customers of all sizes, from startups to mainstream enterprises.

All that said, most experts believe Pivotal will be a key player in the world of the cloud and big data. Pivotal is already challenging the Hadoop market with Pivotal HD, which takes aim at leading Hadoop distributors Cloudera, Hortonworks and MapR. Pivtoal has "this very robust proven MPP [massively parallel processing] SQL compliant engine suddenly sitting on top of Hadoop and HDFS," said George Mathew, president and COO of Alteryx, a San Mateo, Calif. provider of connectors that enable organizations to create dashboards for big data and real-time analysis.

With Maritz at the helm and the backing of EMC and GE, it's a safe bet that Pivotal will be a key player in the evolution of software that enables the processing of big data in the cloud.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 05/02/2013 at 12:49 PM


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