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This morning, long before the developers attending re:Invent, Amazon Web Services (AWS) annual conference, open their eyes, EMC and VMWare spin-off Pivotal will make an alluring announcement. The news — Pivotal One, “the world’s first next-generation multi-cloud Enterprise PaaS” (Platform-as-a-Service) will open for business on Friday. Coincidence? I think not.

What’s So Special?

First off, Pivotal One introduces new options and new opportunities to developers who could previously choose only between AWS and Microsoft Azure.

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Those services are “locked-in” in comparison to Pivotal One’s initial set of data and application services, which sit on top of an enterprise version of Open Source Cloud Foundry (aka Pivotal CF) and should work with many, many Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) platforms.

For anyone who isn’t familiar with Pivotal CF, it provides a faster and easier way to build, test, deploy and scale applications on cloud infrastructure, which can be instantly expanded and upgraded with no downtime, allowing enterprises to innovate at unprecedented speeds.

In other words, with Pivotal CF, software engineers will be able to spend more time experimenting and developing applications that matter. They will be able to do so faster and reduce time-consuming, less value-producing tasks. Add to that the demand for systems administrators and other providers of “plumbing” will be significantly decreased saving time and money without sacrifice.

The Impact of Analytics, Visuals, Applications

But the wins don’t end there. PivotalHD, Pivotal’s version of Hadoop, allows cloud operators to build, manage and scale Hadoop as a natively integrated Pivotal CF service. In addition, Pivotal One Services can work in conjunction with Pivotal CF to integrate differentiated data services such as Hadoop and visual analytics into the enterprise PaaS experience. That provides end users with easily accessible data for decision making.

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It may be worth mentioning that there are other add-ons available to Pivotal One, such as Pivotal AX, an on-premise analytics software that is purpose-built on Pivotal HD and deploys and scales as the Pivotal CF Service;  and Pivotal Rabbit MQ Service, a message broker for applications running on Pivotal CF.

In the age of big data and analytics, an ability to inform applications with data-driven insights is often key to staying in business and to gaining competitive advantage. Insights that impact matter and Pivotal should be able to both provide them and make them actionable.

Choice Matters And Partners Abound

“If Amazon is Apple, we’re Android,” said James Watters, Head of Product for Cloud Foundry. What he means is that Pivotal CF is purposefully open, that it wants to work with any IaaS (even Amazon) and interface with as many applications as possible.

Whether this is a market strategy, a philosophy or a combination of both is anybody’s guess. But either way, it’s working well for companies in the Apache ecosystem.

Key Questions

Does Pivotal have an advantage over AWS? That, my friends, is the million-dollar question. While Pivotal One has certainly come to market with a compelling offering, we have yet to hear from a user.

Amazon, on the other hand, is years ahead of everyone in the Cloud PaaS game; customers complain about lock-in and price, not functionality. But much as developers dislike walled gardens, how many of them carry iPhones?

“Developers are the king makers,” Matt Asay, MongoDB’s, VP of Strategy, told me in a recent interview. If he’s right, and I suspect he may be, the ball is in the developers' court.

Tomorrow, Tomorrow

Amazon’s developers’ conference opens later today. The keynotes are tomorrow. It will be interesting to see if the developers attending are distracted by Pivotal’s announcement (which is probably Pivotal’s intention) or as engaged as always.

But it's just the first inning. As Pivotal CEO, Paul Maritz was leaving VMWare, he said a rather interesting thing:

The story of how application development, deployment and operations is going to be reinvented is just as compelling, just as important, (as the story of the software-defined-data center was) but has not been written. The participants in the creation of this story do not know how it will end.”

Neither do we.