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Q&A with Pivotal: The Evolution of Software Development Pt. 2

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Organizations are taking cloud-native approaches to development to re-platform and re-architect their existing applications or accelerate development of new applications. In this two part Q&A series, we talk to Jeff Kelly, a member of Pivotal, about the evolution of software development, their vision for the future, and any advice they have for development teams. Today, we’ll pick the discussion back up by diving into cloud-native development, open source technology, and Pivotal Cloud Foundry. If you missed part one of the series, check it out here

Q4 – Let us talk for a moment about cloud-native development. What is it and why should developers care about this methodology?

I think the most important thing to point out is that cloud-native development is about how applications are created and deployed, not where they run. It’s an approach to developing and running applications in such a way that takes advantages of the characteristics of the cloud computing delivery model. Those characteristics are things like the ability to offer nearly limitless, on-demand computing power and the ability to elasticity scale those resources based on fluctuating demand or requirements. Another really important characteristic is automation. Cloud-native takes advantage of automation so that developers can quickly build and ship new code, over and over, based on feedback from users and how the software is actually used in the real-world. Yahoo Japan, for example, takes advantage of PCF’s automation capabilities to continuously develop, test and ship new features to its 40 million+ users (that’s nearly ⅓ the total population of Japan!)

Ultimately, cloud-native software development enables enterprises to bring new ideas to market faster and respond sooner to customer demands. And it’s not exclusive to the public cloud. Cloud-native software development can also apply to private clouds, and in fact the majority of Pivotal clients today run their software on-premises in their own private cloud environments.

Q5 – We have also heard a fair amount about the use of open source technology in development. Can you touch upon why using open source is superior to proprietary solutions?

I think the industry has embraced open source software for a number of compelling reasons. One is that open source benefits from the collective innovation of the community. Vibrant, active open source communities, such as the Cloud Foundry and Spring communities, tend to develop new technology and solutions faster and more efficiently than any single company or vendor could. It also benefits from the variety of perspectives that a large, diverse community brings to the table. And there’s no single vendor with its corporate interests dictating the direction of the software or technology. Open source communities, at their best, are meritocracies.

Open source software also makes it easier for enterprises when it comes to choosing what technology to bet their businesses on. That’s because as competing open source technologies mature, usually one or another project wins out (on its merits!) and starts to become an industry standard in its particular area. And when a technology becomes industry standard, more and more people start to learn it and specialize in it, so enterprises can feel confident that there will be a consistent pool of talent to hire from to support their operations.

That said, open source doesn’t mean free and it can actually cost quite a bit to stitch together multiple open source projects into a comprehensive solution suitable for production, mission-critical workloads. And of course someone needs to maintain and secure it on an ongoing basis. That’s why companies like Rabobank, who initially tried to build and run its own cloud-native platform, turned to Pivotal. Pivotal takes care of maintaining, updating and securing PCF so our customers can focus instead on developing great software.

Q6 – Where does Pivotal and the Pivotal Cloud Foundry platform fit into all of this?

At Pivotal, our mission is to transform how the world builds software. We help the world’s largest companies and most well-known brands use software to better serve their customers and, ultimately, grow their businesses. Pivotal Cloud Foundry is one of the mechanisms for achieving that transformation. It is a platform that helps accelerate the development of great software and do so efficiently. We also offer services, both directly and through partners like Perficient, to teach our customers how to develop cloud-native software and modernize their existing applications to take advantage of the benefits of the platform. Customers like Garmin that use both the platform and engage with Pivotal Labs often experience rapid improvements in their software capabilities.

Q7 – How does Pivotal address the growing concern around security and data breaches, a common topic of concern?

Security is obviously a top concern for our clients – banks, retailers, government agencies, and others – and for Pivotal. And just as the way we develop software has changed, how we approach security must also change. Traditional approaches to security tend to focus on perimeter defenses – keeping attackers and other bad actors out of your walled garden – and on reactive measures that treat the symptoms of an attack, rather than warding off the root cause.

Pivotal takes a very different approach to security and it centers on frequent change. Just as your software is always changing, so should your security defenses. Our Chief Security Officer, Justin Smith, calls it the Three Rs approach: repair, repave, rotate. Repair refers to repairing vulnerable operating systems and application stacks consistently within hours of patch availability, limiting the time attackers have to take advantage of a vulnerability. Repave means to repave every server and application in the datacenter every few hours from a known good state, wiping away with it any attackers that may have gained access to your environment. And rotate refers to rotating datacenter credentials every few minutes or hours, so if credentials do leak, they are only valid for a short period of time.

This approach sounds like a lot of work, and it is, but Pivotal Cloud Foundry takes on much of the burden for you. Wells Fargo recently spoke about how it maintains a safe, secure environment while still moving fast and innovating.

Q8 – For organizations who are skeptical about cloud-native development, what are the costs of not making the transition?

You’re going to go out of business! Well, not every organization that fails to transform will go belly up, but some definitely will and others will see their market position deteriorate as competitors – digital-native startups but also established companies that have embraced transformation – leap frog to the top of the pack. Think about how Toys R’ Us has gone the way of Blockbuster. And it all comes back to the customer. With so many options on the market today across industries, you have to be customer-centric to compete and win. And customer-centricity in 2018 means using software to create unbeatable user experiences that keep customers coming back for more. You simply can’t do that using traditional tools, technologies and processes. You need to adopt cloud-native software development and the corresponding changes to your organizational structure and processes. The CIO at Merrill talks about the company’s adapt or die moment and how important it was for the company to embrace the cloud-native approach.

Q9 – Any final thoughts?

I would just add that at Pivotal, we are here to help. We’ve worked with many, many blue chip companies—some, like Ford and Scotiabank, that are literally hundreds of years old—and helped them successfully embrace cloud-native development and transform their businesses. We don’t sell you some software and walk away. And working with partners like Perficient, Pivotal customers are modernizing their middleware stacks and paying own a lot of technical debt. We recently recognized Perficient as one of our 2018 Partners of the Year for Customer Impact for this reason. We and our partners are committed to the success of our clients. We are in it with you for the long haul.

Still curious about our partnership with Pivotal, and all the software development company is doing? Check out the guide, Transform Your Application Development with Pivotal Cloud Foundry.

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Brittany Becker

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