CloudBees Drops PaaS, Shifts To Continuous Integration

CloudBees changes focus to Jenkins continuous integration server, Cloud Foundry partnership.

Charles Babcock, Editor at Large, Cloud

September 22, 2014

5 Min Read

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CloudBees has discontinued its own RUN@Cloud platform as a service, another casualty in the public cloud marketplace that has treated would-be PaaS suppliers brutally. Instead it will partner with one of the few public providers to survive an industry shakeout, Pivotal Labs, the VMware and EMC spinoff.

Pivotal sponsors the Cloud Foundry PaaS system, a broadly backed open source code project. It also offers a commercial product built on Cloud Foundry, Pivotal CF. Instead of offering its own, CloudBees will focus on a product line based on the Jenkins server and rely on Cloud Foundry as a PaaS supplier.

CloudBees' commercial product, Jenkins Enterprise, will be available as an add-on service for Pivotal's commercial version of Cloud Foundry, known as Pivotal CF, later this year.

Jenkins is one of the leading pieces of open source code, along with Ansible, Puppet, and Chef, that's breathing new life into the DevOps movement and bringing development teams into closer alignment and cooperation with IT operations. Instead of a platform-as-a-service provider, CloudBees is transforming itself into a continuous integration company, based on Jenkins, the continuous integration server.

Jenkins is one of the lesser known stars in the open source firmament, but it holds an unrivaled position. Jenkins has "an almost laughably dominant position in the continuous integration server segment," wrote Rebel Labs, in summing up Jenkins as number six in its "10 Kick-Ass Technologies Modern Developers Love."

[Learn about other move CloudBees is making. Read Verizon Cloud Adds CloudBees PaaS.]

Continuous integration is when a developer's new source code is added to a production application shortly after a team leader commits it to the version control system. A continuous integration server ensures that its inclusion in the next build of the whole application is automatic. Thorough testing before the commit makes it possible to repeatedly add code, even to production systems, a practice that used to horrify -- and in many cases, still does horrify -- operations managers. There is no better known cause of software failure than changes to the running system.

Jenkins, as a continuous integration server, was designed to watch for code changes submitted to the code repository, then use tools like Ant and Maven to execute a build and use the new version to initiate tests. Based on the tests, it then rolls a production system forward toward deployment due to the success of the tests or backward toward a known reliable copy. Jenkins was launched by founder and lead developer Kohsuke Kawaguchi in January 2011. Kawaguchi is CloudBees CTO, and CloudBees offers commercial products based on Jenkins, such as Jenkins Enterprise and Jenkins Operations Manager.

CloudBees says there were 85,000 active installations of Jenkins by mid-2014, and CloudBees was making most of its revenue from Jenkins's related products and technical services. It said its Jenkins-based revenue will quadruple in 2014 compared to 2013, while its runtime PaaS, RUN@cloud, was stagnant. For that reason, it announced Sept. 11 that it was discontinuing the cloud-based PaaS and helping customers transition to other services.

CloudBees is a company founded in April 2010 by Sacha Labourey, the former CTO of JBoss, who left Red Hat to found the PaaS startup. CloudBees Jenkins products are available both on-premises and in a cloud-based version of the Jenkins, called DEV@cloud.

After the partnership with Pivotal was announced, James Watters, VP of products and ecosystem for Cloud Foundry at Pivotal, said in a blog Sept. 15 that the market share for public PaaS has shrunk to a small fraction of the market for private, on-premises PaaS. "The public platform space has been a brutal market for startups," he said. Salesforce's buyout of Heroku for $212 million in December 2010 was "a false positive and confused VCs. The investments became irrationally exuberant and the results were predictably bad."

PaaS startups AppFog, Dotcloud, and mobile specialists Parse and Stackmob have had to shift away from pure PaaS into a more specific product, or have been absorbed into larger organizations. AppFog was acquired by CenturyLink's Savvis cloud unit in mid-June. Dotcloud pivoted to concentrate on its Docker Linux container system as it quickly gained traction; it still offers a basic PaaS. CloudBees has followed Dotcloud's example in shifting behind its successful Jenkins products.

"Public PaaS startups were too early, under resourced, and focused on the wrong segment to win big in this new market," wrote Watters.

In CloudBee's announcement of the shift, it acknowledged the community around the Jenkins project, saying it had created 1,000 plugins for Jenkins that enables it to integrate with many enterprise technologies. Jenkins implementations increased 160% in 2013, CloudBees spokesmen said.

Andrew Bayer, build and tools architect at Cloudera, was quoted in the announcement as saying, "No one's got more expertise in the Jenkins and continuous delivery space than CloudBees, and it shows through their work on the open source Jenkins core and plugins." Bayer is on the Jenkins project's governance board.

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About the Author(s)

Charles Babcock

Editor at Large, Cloud

Charles Babcock is an editor-at-large for InformationWeek and author of Management Strategies for the Cloud Revolution, a McGraw-Hill book. He is the former editor-in-chief of Digital News, former software editor of Computerworld and former technology editor of Interactive Week. He is a graduate of Syracuse University where he obtained a bachelor's degree in journalism. He joined the publication in 2003.

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