Pivotal fluffs up *sigh* Cloud Foundry *sigh* cloud for battle in the *sigh* cloud

You've all heard of AWS, what about... PWS? No. OK... well, IT'S HERE!


What is old is new again, as yet another company makes a bet that platform-as-a-services clouds are the future and Amazon Web Services's infrastructure-as-a-service tech is the past.

This time its VMware-spinoff Pivotal, which has launched a "Pivotal Web Services" cloud based on its own Cloud Foundry platform-as-a-service to take on equivalent services from Google (App Engine), Amazon (AWS Elastic Beanstalk), Salesforce (Heroku), and Microsoft (Azure).

PWS runs on top of the open source Cloud Foundry tech, along with some proprietary additions such as Pivotal's Developer Console, Billing Service and Marketplace.

Cloud Foundry is a platform-as-a-service, so it gives developers less control over underlying infrastructure than a traditional IaaS cloud like Google's Compute Engine or Amazon's EC2 and S3 services, but makes application deployment significantly easier.

Cloud Foundry is going through continuous development, so aspects of the Cloud Foundry release that get deployed as part of PWS are prone to change. Pivotal recently rewrote the Cloud Foundry command line interface in Go to simplify cross-platform installs, the company said. The CF CLI previously ran on Ruby, switching to Go makes it easier for developers to install it on Windows environments, we understand.

Initially, the PaaS supports apps written in Ruby, Node.js., and Java, but companies can add their own applications and runtimes by building "Custom Buildpacks".

"Buildpacks are a convenient way of packaging framework and/or runtime support for your application," Pivotal explains. "For example, by default Cloud Foundry does not support Python, or a Python framework like Django. Using a buildpack for Python and Django would allow you to add support for these at the deployment stage."

Buildpacks are one of the keys to Pivotal's overall tech strategy, which sees the company take a different approach from those of its rivals. Where Google is a bakery that serves up some delicious Ruby and Python-coated confections, Pivotal has a small menu but lets you also use its kitchen to cook up your own delights. If you don't know how to properly prepare your buildpack, then the results may be inedible [Luckily, unlike bad baked goods, a bad buildpack won't doom you to an extended conversation with Ralph on the porcelain phone.—Ed.].

Pricing has, as is the current fashion, been engineered to be substantially lower than its rivals, with Pivotal's pricing for its service working out to $10.80 per month versus Amazon's $35.27. Though the company's comparison isn't exactly correct, as AWS's "Elastic Load Balancer" has different characteristics to its "HTTP Routing and Balancing", it serves as a good rough indication for where the service fits.

PWS also comes with a "Services Marketplace", which means people can easily integrate and pay for additional tech such as ClearDB's MySQL Database or SendGrid for email delivery, or a MongoDB-as-a-Service tech from MongoLab, and so on.

Pivotal Web Services is, superficially, a serious bet by Pivotal that it can succeed in a cloud world. However, the main emphasis of the company is on on-premises installs wrapped in a pricy package of consultation, so it is not clear yet how dedicated it will be to pay-by-the-drink cloud.

It's also worth remembering that we've been here before: Google and Microsoft's early cloud services were both platform-as-a-service systems, and they failed to make the companies significant sums of money. Both have since developed infrastructure-as-a-service platforms as part of a pursuit for greater revenue.

With PWS, however, Pivotal thinks PaaS's time has come. ®

An earlier version of this story said CF is now written in Go, when in fact only some components of it have been rewritten.

Broader topics


Other stories you might like

  • Amazon can't channel the dead, but its deepfake voices take a close second
    Megacorp shows Alexa speaking like kid's deceased grandma

    In the latest episode of Black Mirror, a vast megacorp sells AI software that learns to mimic the voice of a deceased woman whose husband sits weeping over a smart speaker, listening to her dulcet tones.

    Only joking – it's Amazon, and this is real life. The experimental feature of the company's virtual assistant, Alexa, was announced at an Amazon conference in Las Vegas on Wednesday.

    Rohit Prasad, head scientist for Alexa AI, described the tech as a means to build trust between human and machine, enabling Alexa to "make the memories last" when "so many of us have lost someone we love" during the pandemic.

    Continue reading
  • Amazon shows off robot warehouse workers that won't complain, quit, unionize...
    Mega-corp insists it's all about 'people and technology working safely and harmoniously together'

    Amazon unveiled its first "fully autonomous mobile robot" and other machines designed to operate alongside human workers at its warehouses.

    In 2012 the e-commerce giant acquired Kiva Systems, a robotics startup, for $775 million. Now, following on from that, Amazon has revealed multiple prototypes powered by AI and computer-vision algorithms, ranging from robotic grippers to moving storage systems, that it has developed over the past decade. The mega-corporation hopes to put them to use in warehouses one day, ostensibly to help staff lift, carry, and scan items more efficiently. 

    Its "autonomous mobile robot" is a disk-shaped device on wheels, and resembles a Roomba. Instead of hoovering crumbs, the machine, named Proteus, carefully slots itself underneath a cart full of packages and pushes it along the factory floor. Amazon said Proteus was designed to work directly with and alongside humans and doesn't have to be constrained to specific locations caged off for safety reasons. 

    Continue reading
  • Alibaba Cloud challenges AWS with its own custom smartNIC
    Who'll board the custom silicon bandwagon next?

    Alibaba Cloud offered a peek at its latest homegrown silicon at its annual summit this week, which it calls Cloud Infrastructure Processing Units (CIPU).

    The data processing units (DPUs), which we're told have already been deployed in a “handful” of the Chinese giant’s datacenters, offload virtualization functions associated with storage, networking, and security from the host CPU cores onto dedicated hardware.

    “The rapid increase in data volume and scale, together with higher demand for lower latency, call for the creation of new tech infrastructure,” Alibaba Cloud Intelligence President Jeff Zhang said in a release.

    Continue reading
  • Price hikes, cloud expansion drive record datacenter spending
    High unit costs and fixed capex budgets propelling enterprises cloudwards

    The major hyperscalers and cloud providers are forecast to spend 25 percent more on datacenter infrastructure this year to $18 billion following record investments in the opening three months of 2022.

    This is according to Dell’Oro Group research, which found new cloud deployments and higher per-unit infrastructure costs underpinned capex spending in Q1, which grew at its fastest pace in nearly three years, the report found.

    Datacenter spending is expected to receive an additional boost later this year as the top four cloud providers expand their services to as many as 30 new regions and memory prices trend upward ahead of Intel and AMD’s next-gen processor families, Dell’Oro analyst Baron Fung told The Register

    Continue reading
  • Oracle cloud growth up 19% but it's still a market minnow
    Acquisition of health data specialist Cerner adds $15.8b to Big Red's debt

    Oracle has impressed the markets with strong revenue growth for cloud infrastructure and applications-as-a-service.

    However, Oracle is still struggling to gain a larger share of the global cloud market, where it lags behind AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud.

    Big Red's total revenue for Q4, which ended May 31, hit $11.8 billion, up 5 per cent on the same period a year ago. Total cloud revenue, including infrastructure and software-as-a-service, reached $2.9 billion, up 19 percent. Cloud ERP Fusion revenue increased 20 percent while NetSuite ERP cloud revenue grew 27 per cent.

    Continue reading
  • AWS sent edgy appliance to the ISS and it worked – just like all the other computers up there
    Congrats, AWS, you’ve boldly gone where the Raspberry Pi has already been

    Amazon Web Services has proudly revealed that the first completely private expedition to the International Space Station carried one of its Snowcone storage appliances, and that the device worked as advertised.

    The Snowcone is a rugged shoebox-sized unit packed full of disk drives – specifically 14 terabytes of solid-state disk – a pair of VCPUs and 4GB of RAM. The latter two components mean the Snowcone can run either EC2 instances or apps written with AWS’s Greengrass IoT product. In either case, the idea is that you take a Snowcone into out-of-the-way places where connectivity is limited, collect data in situ and do some pre-processing on location. Once you return to a location where bandwidth is plentiful, it's assumed you'll upload the contents of a Snowcone into AWS and do real work on it there.

    Continue reading
  • AWS buys before it tries with quantum networking center
    Fundamental problems of qubit physics aside, the cloud giant thinks it can help

    Nothing in the quantum hardware world is fully cooked yet, but quantum computing is quite a bit further along than quantum networking – an esoteric but potentially significant technology area, particularly for ultra-secure transactions. Amazon Web Services is among those working to bring quantum connectivity from the lab to the real world. 

    Short of developing its own quantum processors, AWS has created an ecosystem around existing quantum devices and tools via its Braket (no, that's not a typo) service. While these bits and pieces focus on compute, the tech giant has turned its gaze to quantum networking.

    Alongside its Center for Quantum Computing, which it launched in late 2021, AWS has announced the launch of its Center for Quantum Networking. The latter is grandly working to solve "fundamental scientific and engineering challenges and to develop new hardware, software, and applications for quantum networks," the internet souk declared.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022