Product Announcements

Pivotal CF

Today Pivotal announced the availability of Pivotal CF. Jointly developed with VMware, the Pivotal CF product includes a packaged and supported version of the Cloud Foundry open PaaS for VMware vSphere.

In April 2011 VMware first launched Cloud Foundry, an Apache-licensed open source Platform as a Service (PaaS) and an associated vSphere-based public cloud service. A year later, in April 2012, we announced a DevOps toolchain called BOSH, used to deploy and manage Cloud Foundry at scale on virtualized infrastructure. In April 2013 VMware and EMC formed Pivotal, a spinout company using technology from both companies including Cloud Foundry.

VMware’s vision for Cloud Foundry has always been to deliver maximum agility to application developers across both public and private cloud environments. In working with Pivotal to deliver Pivotal CF we have fulfilled that vision, bringing the incredible productivity of Cloud Foundry to vSphere customers.


Pivotal CF provides a multi-tenant “Platform-as-a-Service” capability for application development and operations. Users of a Pivotal CF service can deploy applications in seconds, scale them out or in with a single command and update them without downtime. The service includes the ability to deploy applications based on a variety of languages and runtimes, so there is no need for users to write deployment scripts or other automation software. Application management is fully automated.

Pivotal CF can be used in the context of a software development life cycle, or SDLC, supporting the movement of applications between development, test and production phases, with different roles for the staff involved at each stage.

Pivotal CF abstracts the underlying virtualized infrastructure, so users work with application-oriented abstractions – an application, comprised of multiple instances that are load balanced, connected to services such as a database or messaging system. Users of Pivotal CF are not exposed to virtual machines, storage or networks, both simplifying the usage model and giving significant control over application deployment and management to Pivotal CF infrastructure managers.

Applications used on Pivotal CF typically serve HTTP requests. Examples include web applications serving HTML pages to a web browser and a RESTful service responding to API requests from a mobile phone. These applications generally run on light-weight middleware such as Tomcat (for Java applications) or Ruby on Rails, and can be easily scaled horizontally according to the needs of the application.

vSphere and Pivotal CF

vSphere is incredibly well suited to running Cloud Foundry for a number of reasons:

  • Using technology such as vSphere HA, it provides highly reliable underlying infrastructure, ensuring that Pivotal CF can focus on maximizing agility for developers while maintaining enterprise class reliability and resilience.
  • Through vCenter it provides highly programmable virtual infrastructure – the Software Defined Data Center (SDDC). This allows Pivotal CF to programmatically create VMs and virtual disks during deployment of the service, then destroy and recreate them as part of a highly orchestrated update process, typically carried out with zero downtime.
  • Technologies like vMotion and Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS) provide the ability to carry out maintenance on underlying physical infrastructure without incurring downtime for Pivotal CF.
  • DRS technology also allows workloads to be continuously rebalanced, ensuring that applications get the best possible performance available from the infrastructure available.

Going forward, we are working to bring Cloud Foundry and Pivotal CF to the vCloud Hybrid Service. There are great opportunities to integrate with other Software Defined Data Center technologies also, such as vCloud Automation Center (vCAC) for governance of Cloud Foundry-based environments, or NSX Network Virtualization for security and isolation.

This is just the beginning of a radical shift for application development on VMware technology.

Installing Pivotal CF

Pivotal CF is delivered as a virtual appliance. To start, first install it on your vSphere infrastructure, give it an IP address and start it up. You then connect to it using your web browser and configure the installation manager.

Pivotal CF Dashboard
The Pivotal CF dashboard, with an installation in progress.

The first step is to provide information about the target vSphere infrastructure. This includes a set of vCenter credentials, which will be used during the installation process to create virtual machines and disks. Next, you provide information about the infrastructure environment being used – what datacenter, cluster, resource pool, network and storage to use and what IP addresses are available. Once all of that is set up you’re ready to move onto setting up the Elastic Runtime – the core PaaS service.

Elastic Runtime requires fairly minimal setup. You tell the installation manager what domain names to use for both system services and applications along with the IP address to use for the routers. Next up is to indicate how to manage identity – you can integrate your installation with the vSphere 5.5 SSO appliance or simply use the built-in identity system. Finally, you can determine much application capacity you want to deploy and how scalable and resilient you want the resulting service to be, by specifying the number and size of different types of virtual machine.

Pivotal CF also comes with a MySQL database service suitable for development purposes. When combined with Elastic Runtime’s support for many different languages and runtimes, including Java / Spring and Ruby on Rails, this Database as a Service enables extremely rapid development of database driven web applications and services.

Once everything is set up, click the button to install. The installation manager first validates all of your settings, then deploys a VM called “Micro BOSH”. This VM will be used to deploy all other services.  Once Micro BOSH is successfully deployed it in turn starts to deploy the Elastic Runtime.

The deployment process involves uploading template VM images, creating new VMs based on these, then installing software in those VMs. Depending on the size of the environment you choose it can take about an hour for the first installation. Once deployed it’s ready for use immediately.

Pivotal CF Deployment In Progress
Overview of the installation process, showing the high level tasks involved in a complete Pivotal CF installation.

If you want to change your settings after deployment Pivotal CF will update the installation to reflect those changes. And in future, when updates to the product are released, Pivotal CF will deploy those updates, minimizing or eliminating service downtime as much as possible.


VMware is delighted to be working with Pivotal to bring the incredible agility and productivity of Pivotal CF to vSphere customers. At the same time, we’re delighted that Pivotal CF customers will benefit from the most reliable, performant and flexible virtualization technology in the world – vSphere.


Related Articles