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GE Puts $105M Into Pivotal, The New EMC And VMware Platform Initiative, But Here’s What It Is Missing

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GE is taking a 10 percent stake and investing $105 million in Pivotal, the spin-out from EMC and VMware. GE will work with Pivotal on research and development with the aim of helping customers develop data analytics offerings. GE says its investment aligns with its focus on the “Industrial Internet.”

The move shows GE’s investments in developing its own software prowess. GE and Pivotal will use the “Global Software Center,” which is headquartered in San Ramon, Calif., to develop a software platform that GE will deliver as a service to industrial customers. According to a press release issued this morning, Pivotal’s platform will serve as a way for the company to launch applications and offer data analytics.

The Pivotal technology draws from EMC and VMware’s stable of products and services, either developed internally or acquired. VMware’s Cloud Foundry PaaS, SpringSource and Gemstone and EMC’s Greenplum and Pivotal Labs groups form the foundation for one “virtual organization,” with 1,400 employees. Cetas, VMware’s big data analytics solution, is also part of the group.

Pivotal is now calling itself an enterprise Platform as a Service (PaaS), a commentary on the lack of any meaning that can be found with the usual “private cloud,” rhetoric that has become the catch-all phrase for anything “cloud,” in the enterprise. In fact, there is not one reference to private cloud in the press release.

Yefim Natis, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner, has tepid reviews for Pivotal. He said it is noteworthy that Pivotal separated its application infrastructure technologies (Pivotal) from systems infrastructure (the remaining VMware assets). It’s ambitious and provides an option for IT versus the range of vendors, such as Red Hat and data analytics companies such as MapR, which has been an EMC partner in years past.

Integration is a core missing piece, Natis said in a statement. The effort lacks what is widely recognized as an EMC/VMware weakness. And that’s the lack of a truly independent platform similar to Amazon Web Services or even a SaaS offering to integrate data and applications.

He further states that 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-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).

And it is missing the social/mobile connection that is part of the “nexus of forces,” derived from data analytics:

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.

It still seems to me that the Pivotal Initiative is still tied to a model that focuses on building out a company’s capital expenditures (CapEX) as opposed to driving a decrease in costs for expensive hardware and focusing on operations expenditures (OpEx). The OpEx model is what we equate with companies adopting Amazon Web Services and elastic services that emulate that model. I’d put OpenStack initiatives more in the (OpEx) model, because it helps companies use existing infrastructure to offer services to its employees or customers.

Pivotal is ambitious, and it has a chance but there are still some missing pieces that need to be filled.