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Pivotal Q&A: Building Fast, Agile Applications at Scale With Pivotal Cloud Foundry and Redis Labs

Pivotal Cloud Foundry and Redis Enterprise Database

Modernizing your existing apps and building out new, real-time apps, can be an overwhelming process. Keeping up with user response times is only one piece of the puzzle developers today must solve. Today’s developer faces a number of challenges when building great software.

The modern application needs to cater to a variety of functions and services. They need to accomplish both transactions, analytics, operational processing, and so on. Often they deal with a wide variety of data – from location to relationships to documents or graph. They can be legacy or brand new developments in a variety of popular languages and stacks. They have to be fully elastic while scaling, and deployed in a multitude of environments – whether that be on-premises, cloud, PaaS, hybrid. But in all cases, they need to meet time to market requirements, and stay within corporate budgets.

Redis Labs partners with Pivotal enabling customers to tackle these challenges. We work with our customers to ensure they are achieving performance and availability at scale, maintaining the lowest latencies with the least amount of resources.

We sat down with Dormain Drewitz, Director of Product Marketing at Pivotal, to take a deeper look at the Redis Enterprise tile for Pivotal Cloud Foundry. Read our full conversation below.

1. The enterprise is making an enormous shift to go digital. The modern business model is built upon agile, well-built software solutions. How does Pivotal Cloud Foundry fit into the new age of software development?

Pivotal Cloud Foundry (PCF) is an enabling technology in that shift to digital. Agile and lean practices help teams work in those shorter iterations and feedback loops. But they need a way to deploy, operate, and scale on the other side of that iteration. That’s where PCF comes in. T-Mobile went from taking seven months and 72 steps to release new software to doing same day bug fixes with no downtime. Being able to release and update software that seamlessly is how a business becomes a learning organization.

2. Pivotal often talks about the importance of embracing a cloud-native approach to software delivery. Can you explain the key factors to building cloud-native apps? How do Pivotal Cloud Foundry and Redis Enterprise ​enable a cloud-native approach?

Cloud-native apps are built in a way that can scale elastically, fail gracefully, and are updated continuously. 12 Factor principles, like using backing services and code repositories, play a role. Microservices architectures play a role. They can scale independently and make it easier to release more frequently. DevOps practices also play a role offering things like shared responsibility and automating testing and integration along the delivery pipeline. PCF improves your cloud-native stance by automating infrastructure, and making it easy for developers to focus on shipping code.

PCF has an infrastructure automation layer, called BOSH. BOSH provisions resources and maintains service uptime. This supports a lot of the developer self-service features in PCF. BOSH also monitors and orchestrates the underlying cloud resources. This takes the burden off of operations teams for a lot of “day 2” tasks.

Then there’s the Elastic Runtime that takes the code, containerizes it, and automates the integration of that container with other services. The Elastic Runtime allows developers to focus on their code. They don’t worry about lower levels of the stack which have all been standardized and secured.

Redis Labs has done a few things to integrate with PCF to further enable a cloud-native approach. First, there’s a Service Broker for Redis Enterprise, which allows developers to bind their apps to a Redis Enterprise cluster. The Service Broker is a useful abstraction for following those cloud-native principles, like backing services. Second, Redis Enterprise can actually run on BOSH as well. With that, operators have a common infrastructure automation tool-chain for both their applications and their Redis Enterprise databases.

3. How does Pivotal Cloud Foundry increase productivity, or streamline business for the enterprise? What types of traditional responsibilities does it allow developers to let go off?

With PCF, companies like Garmin are releasing code 1100 times per month and accelerating dev cycles. Comcast is supporting over 1500 developers with only 4 platform operators. These examples point to the magnitude of efficiency and productivity enterprises see with PCF.

There are a couple areas where developers specifically are unburdened. First, they have self-service access to the resources and services they need, so they don’t need to put in a ticket for, say, a Redis Labs Enterprise cluster. Next, if they are using the Elastic Runtime, they don’t have to worry about containers: which versions, how to wire them together, how they are going to be updated over time. All they do is push their code and the Elastic Runtime takes care of that.

Another important part of driving productivity is automating testing, integration, and deployment with continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD). Customers can use a range of tools for this, but we’ve built Concourse to specifically do this in a cloud-native way. We see customers adopting it to avoid manual, error-prone deployments of applications. Platform ops teams are also adopting it for patching and rolling upgrades. Josh Stone from Verizon put it well, when he described how, with Concourse, the platform ops team avoids “constant firefighting” and has more cycles to create tooling. There’s a virtuous cycle of automation and efficiency.

4. Let’s talk about Redis Enterprise Pack​ ​for Pivotal Cloud Foundry. What are the key ​advantages that customers should know about running the Redis Enterprise Pack tile for PCF?

The PCF integration is the closest thing to running your own Redis Enterprise cloud service. That’s particularly useful if you need to self-manage your Redis Enterprise environment. You get all the benefits of Redis Enterprise Pack scaling, resource efficiency, in-memory replication supplemented with instant failure detection and failover, plus the operational benefits of BOSH and self-service experience for developers.

5. There can be some confusion around the differences between today’s leading PaaS providers. What differentiates Pivotal Cloud Foundry in the market place?

First, it provides cloud portability. It’s not tied to any particular cloud provider and works across all the major IaaS vendors, both public and private cloud: VMware’s vSphere, OpenStack, AWS, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure.

Second, it’s a proven productivity enhancer. Ford, Comcast, Liberty Mutual, etc – they’re all getting software offerings into market faster on PCF.

Third, it’s opinionated and flexible. It’s designed for 12 Factor apps, but you don’t need to have all 12 Factors to get an app up and running. You can run Docker images, Windows and Linux workloads, streaming and batch apps. You can bind applications to a huge number of monitoring, security, and other tools.

Finally, I’d highlight how it helps with security. Best practices, like patching, are well known but difficult to put in place. With PCF, it’s much easier to lock down a secure stemcell for all your applications. You can also repair vulnerable software quickly when it’s discovered. PCF manages and rotates credentials to limit exposure windows. It’s a platform that provides security through faster change, making it easier to do the right things.

6. What resources would you suggest for someone looking to get started with Redis Enterprise on Pivotal Cloud Foundry?

We have a great site to introduce people to the integration at: https://pivotal.io/platform/pcf-marketplace/data-management/redis-labs . At the bottom of that page you’ll find more resources, which are also listed here: https://content.pivotal.io/redis-labs . There, you’ll find blogs, webinars and replays, podcasts, etc. to learn more about using Redis Enterprise on PCF.

If you’re ready for a hands on developer experience, Redis Labs also has an integration with our hosted version of PCF, Pivotal Web Services: run.pivotal.io.

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