Pivotal to Build Enterprise-Focused Channel

Pivotal CEO Paul Maritz

Pivotal CEO Paul Maritz

Pivotal, the big data spin-off of both EMC and VMware, will build its own channel program, targeted primarily at enterprise partners, the company’s CEO said Tuesday at EMC World.

“When you’re building a platform, you’re interested in people who can add value on top of or underneath that platform,” said Paul Maritz. “We see interest from high-end service providers, to systems integrators, to ISVs. We’re an enterprise company, and we’ll be following channels that lead to the enterprise.”

Given the company’s focus on big data and fast data challenges – the Pivotal One platform is intended to be an “operating system” for cloud-based applications – Maritz said he didn’t see much opportunity with the SMB-focused VAR channel, but did say that ultimately, service providers are likely to build on top of Pivotal’s technologies to extend its reach further down-market.

Pivotal is slated to launch its Pivotal One platform by the end of this year, and in response to a partner question at EMC’s Global Partner Summit, held here in concert with EMC World, EMC chief Joe Tucci suggested that a formal partner program from Pivotal will have to wait until after the platform is out the door.

Maritz touched on this chicken-and-egg issue for his company, saying that there a lot of enterprises that would benefit from the kinds of applications the platform would enable. But before there’s time to further develop those conversations, there is, Maritz says, “a small matter of execution.”

“We’ve got to deliver the actual platform,” he said.

While Pivotal’s plans may not include the VAR partner, many of those partners already sell pieces and parts of the Pivotal platform – for example, the Greenplum database from EMC that has been rolled into Pivotal. The good news, Maritz said, is that the components that have been brought into Pivotal will continue to be offered, and developed, as stand-alone items, as well as rolled into the overall cloud platform.

Perhaps the biggest channel opportunity around Pivotal may be around application development. The company is predicated on the idea that enterprises need to build out their next-generation applications in a way similar to the big Internet companies – the Facebooks and Googles of the world – for scaleout and handling large volumes of data order short periods of time. Maritz said one of the biggest questions he faces is where the apps for his new platform will come from. In part, it will depend on enterprise buy-in, and that’s already started happening. General Electric, for example, bought ten percent of the new company because it intends to write a new generation of applications based on the soon-to-be-realized capability of most everything it sells, from jet engines to toasters, will be capable of “reporting home” via the Internet. This, of course, turns the current deluge of Big Data into the wildest rainstorm ever seen. Maritz says that airline customers tell him that if they were to capture every bit of data generated by a Boeing 777 on a single trans-Atlantic flight, it would be in the order of 8 TB of data. And all of that data would have value for the airlines as well as the manufacturers of aircraft and jet engines, among other interested parties.

“There are so many examples of applications across a variety of industries,” Maritz said.

To some degree, Pivotal will be looking to provide those apps itself. Maritz notes that he has 250 people in his Pivotal Labs division building examples of these types of next-generation applications, which are used to test the performance of the upcoming Pivotal One platform. And presumably, those people and the experience they develop in building those apps and the platform to run them will be eventually offered up to customers. Pivotal also has access to professional services capabilities from both VMware and EMC, as well as a data sciences group that’s focused on how to understand how organizations can get value out of their data.

But for the most part, its going to rely on a variety of partners, mostly ISVs, to either develop new applications for its platform, or to add new capabilities to their existing applications via Pivotal. And the company is betting on a lot of applications. Today, the company estimates that that these kind of next-generation cloud-based apps will grow at a 700 percent CAGR between now an 2016. However, it also stresses that today’s “second generation” applications aren’t going away, with the number of applications still growing at 70 percent CAGR between now and 2016.

While the growth will be on the side of the next-gen apps, the overall revenues numbers are still skewed towards more traditional apps, so Pivotal will be well-motivated to make sure that its platform serves the role of creating connections between the two types of applications as pain-free as possible, introducing further integration opportunities for solution providers.