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IBM and Pivotal have teamed up to further promote Cloud Foundry, the open source project for developers to deploy and scale applications.

Before we jump to the specifics of the partnership, it’s worth digging into the complex back story behind Cloud Foundry, Pivotal, and its new management team.

Initially, it had been unclear who would govern Cloud Foundry. The platform as a service (PaaS) project was originally spearheaded by VMware to enable companies to run applications. But the virtualization giant recently announced job cuts, and we speculated that it would focus its energies on infrastructure, rather than applications.

This put Cloud Foundry in an awkward spot.


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VMware’s parent company EMC later revealed that it would spin off VMware’s non-core business units, including Cloud Foundry. To govern it all, a new company called Pivotal was created. Pivotal was also tasked to focus on emerging areas like “big data” and cloud computing. More on Pivotal’s launch here.

Pivotal borrowed some assets and technical talent from Pivotal Labs, the well regarded developer studio acquired by EMC in March, 2012. Pivotal is also received $105 million in investment from General Electric. Pivotal also now manages the Greenplum, Pivotal LabsSpringSource, and Cetas business lines.

[This just in: Paul Maritz, CEO of Pivotal, will speak at our CloudBeat 2013 event on Sept 9-10, a rare public appearance for the former CEO of VMware.]

The Pivotal story is still developing, but today, EMC, VMware and Pivotal are all operating semi-independently. These companies share a common boss in EMC Chairman Joe Tucci. EMC is also the majority shareholder in VMware, and also owns 60 percent of Pivotal.

In the wake of all this uncertainty, EMC and VMware have announced 1,800 job cuts across many of their units, including executive shifts, shuttered products lines, and more — as part of a company wide effort to cut costs. EMC’s stock value has remained roughly steady over the past two and a half years, and is now about $56 billion.

However, at the same time, we’ve also heard word that Cloud Foundry is doing very well. In March, the company said Pivotal overall expects to make $300 million in revenue this year, up 101 percent over the revenue from the prior year.

It’s a relief to hear that Cloud Foundry is here to stay. With this technology, IBM and Pivotal customers can move freely between different infrastructure and application models, as well as cloud applications — no lock-in required. For instance, a retailer could create an e-commerce app for a current promotion, which could run on various cloud infrastructures.

In a statement to the press, IBM claims it has seen a voracious appetite from its customers for cloud-based mobile, social and analytics applications. But CIOs are also asking for a more open platform, which the company hopes it can offer through this partnership.

IBM has been throwing its considerable heft behind open source projects. It recently announced plans to base its cloud products and services on open cloud architecture. IBM executives often stress that the company is pushing its some 9,000 clients to adopt open source technologies.

“IBM will incorporate Cloud Foundry into its open cloud architecture, and put its full support behind Cloud Foundry as an open and collaborative platform for cloud application development,” said Daniel Sabbah, general manager of next generation platforms at IBM.

In a joint statement, IBM and Pivotal also announced plans to create a community advisory board for Cloud Foundry. IBM and Pivotal executives will be responsible for moderating and preserving the Cloud Foundry brand. The companies will also co-host a community conference in September of this year.

“We believe that the Cloud Foundry platform has the potential to become an extraordinary asset that many players can leverage in an open way to enable a new generation of applications for the cloud,” said Paul Maritz, CEO of Pivotal in a statement.

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