The Pivotal Initiative – VMware and EMC spin off a new organization to focus on big data in the cloud

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Disclaimer – I am a Chariot Solutions employee, however this analysis is my own and should not be interpreted as the policy or official stance of Chariot Solutions. I direct our VMware Authorized Training Center, and provide training in Spring, tc Server and other technologies. Chariot is a VMware solutions partner as well.

On December 12th, EMC and VMware announced a spin-off that will merge units from both VMware and their parent company into a single, focused organization named the Pivotal Initiative.

The main focus of this operation, which will involve more than 1,400 employees from both companies, will be cloud-based big-data software. The merger brings together the vFabric and SpringSource teams (including Cloud Foundry, projects such as GemFire, Hyperic and tc Server), recently acquired Pivotal Labs, and data warehousing and data science teams from Greenplum, as well as recently acquired Cetas.

This organization will likely be tasked with defining a platform-as-a-service cloud offering around big data. As they are just getting started, I took some time to diagram major projects owned by each team:


What a massive list of projects and services. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of overlap. However, everything in the diagram above represents a very big set of services and projects, from Java development and testing tools with SpringSource, to high-speed and large-scale data storage, queuing and caching, hadoop and data analytics and monitoring, among other things.

The VMware and Pivotal teams are known for their contributions to open source – indeed, Spring has been available as a free open source platform since inception, and the projects spawned from or running on Spring are legion. Pivotal is famous for their Tracker tool, involvement in platforms such as Ruby on Rails, agile development practices, and a number of testing APIs for Javascript, iOS, and Android.

This is a very high-profile collection of software and services, including at least three consulting teams and training outfits, and is being run by Paul Maritz, formerly VMware’s CEO and notably Microsoft’s director of desktop and server software until 2000. His phrase, ‘eat your own dogfood’, was coined while working at Microsoft.

Over the coming months we’ll see how the organization shapes up, and who will be selected for the first-level management team. It is clear, however, that they are directing all of their energies in cloud software development and focusing in on Big Data, based on the various projects and technologies pictured above. Some highlights:

  • (EMC) Greenplum HD / MR – This is an enterprise-ready Hadoop Map Reduce data analysis engine. The MR tool provides APIs based on Map5, and HD provides the Hadoop platform. This is a tool used for massive data analysis projects, and can plug into data storage such as HDFS (a block-based virtual storage system) or in this software, into an EMC data storage solution.
  • (VMware) vFabric Redis – a NoSQL key-value store, which can store various data structures such as hashes, lists, sets, sorted sets, and even strings.
  • (VMware) vFabric RabbitMQ – a high-speed, AMQ protocol-based messaging service. AMQP was designed for cross-business messaging of business-level messages. Rather than using web services or proprietary gateways, an AMQP-based messaging system can send messages to any other AMQP-based server without barrier.
  • (VMware) Gemfire Cache – a distributable cache that can be plugged into Tomcat for HTTP session persistence or Hibernate/JPA to manage second-level caching for code tables, reference data, and expensively-fetched information that needs to be fetched again quickly.

In addition, they now have three major groups of consultants and project leaders, from the SpringSource developers, to Pivotal’s agile development teams, to Greenplum’s data scientists and data analysts. In total, over 1,400 employees will be pulled to form this organization, so it will be critical to set a mission to properly focus their impact. 

It is too early to tell where the organization will focus their energies initially. They could decide to open-source a cloud platform that could run on any virtual machine, perhaps Cloud Foundry, or they could focus on their integration with vSphere and the VMware cloud services.

For Chariot, where we have partnered with VMware (nee SpringSource, nee Interface21) and worked on Spring-based development projects for many years, we may see additional opportunities to work with the Pivotal Initiative in new technologies and additional training. We have been assured of the continuance of our current lineup of SpringSource training courses, and will be able to offer courses in technologies such as GemFire and Redis in the near future. Stay tuned for additional information.


Discuss this with me on Twitter as @krimple.