Enterprises fighting back, Spring Boot is the best, and other SpringOne Platform takeaways

Last week I was in Las Vegas for SpringOne Platform. This conference had one of the greatest session lists I’ve ever seen, and brought together nearly 2,000 people interested in microservices, Java Spring, DevOps, agile, Cloud Foundry, and cloud-native development. With sponsors like Google, Microsoft, HortonWorks, Accenture, and AWS, and over 400 different companies represented by attendees, the conference had a unique blend of characters. I spent some time reflecting on the content and vibe of SpringOne Platform, and noticed that I kept coming back to the following themes.

#1 – Enterprises are fighting back.

Finally! Large, established companies are tired of operating slow-moving, decrepit I.T. departments where nothing interesting happens. At SpringOne Platform, I saw company after company talking about how they are creating change, and then showing the results. Watch this insightful keynote from Citi where they outline pain points, and how they’ve changed their team structure, culture, and technology:

You don’t have to work at Uber, Etsy, Netflix or AWS to work on cutting-edge technology. Enterprises have woken up to the fact that outsourcing their strategic technology skills was a dumb decision. What are they doing to recover?

  1. Newfound focus on hiring and expanding technology talent. In just about every enterprise-led session I attended, the presentation closed with a “we’re hiring!” notice. Netflix has been ending their blog posts with this call-to-action for YEARS. Enterprises are starting to sponsor conferences and go where developers hang out. Additionally, because you can’t just hire hundreds of devs that know cloud-native patterns, I’m seeing enterprises make a greater investment in their existing people. That’s one reason Pluralsight continues to explode in popularity as enterprises purchase subscriptions for all their tech teams.
  2. Upgrading and investing in technology. Give the devs what they want! Enterprises have started to realize that classic enterprise technology doesn’t attract talented people to work on it. Gartner predicts that by the year 2020, 75% of the apps supporting digital business will be built, not bought. That means that your dev teams need the tools and tech that let them crank out customer-centric, resilient apps. And they need support for using modern approaches to delivering software. If you invest in technology, you’ll attract the talent to work with it.


#2 – Spring Boot is the best application bootstrapping experience, period.

For 17+ years I’ve either coded in .NET or Node.js (with a little experimentation in Go, Ruby, and Java). After joining Pivotal, I decided that I should learn Spring, since that’s our jam.

I’ve never seen anything better than Spring Boot for getting developers rolling. Instead of spending hours (days?) setting up boilerplate code, and finding the right mix of dependencies for your project, Spring Boot takes care of all that. Give me 4 minutes, and I can build and deploy a git-backed Configuration Server. In a few moments I can flip on OAuth2 security or distributed tracing. And this isn’t hello-world quality stuff; this is the productization of Netflix OSS and other battle tested technology that you can use with simple code annotations. That’s amazing, and you can use the Spring Initializer to get started today.


Smart companies realize that devs shouldn’t be building infrastructure, app scaffolding or wrangling dependencies; they should be creating user experiences and business logic. Whereas Node.js has a billion packages and I spend plenty of time selecting ones that don’t have Guy Fieri images embedded, Spring Boot gives devs a curated, integrated set of packages. And it’s saving companies like Comcast, millions of dollars.

Presenter after presenter at SpringOne Platform were able to quickly demonstrate complex distributed systems concepts by using Spring Boot apps. Java innovation happens in Spring.

#3 A wave of realism has swept over the industry.

I’m probably being optimistic, but it seems like some of the hype is settling down, and we’re actually getting to work on transformation. The SpringOne Platform talks (both in sessions, and hallway/lunch conversations) weren’t about visions of the future, but actual in-progress efforts. Transformation is hard and there aren’t shortcuts. Simply containerizing won’t make a difference, for example.

Talk after talk, conducted by analysts or customers, highlighted the value of assessing your existing app portfolio, and identifying where refactoring or replatforming can add value. Just lifting and shifting to a container orchestration platform doesn’t actually improve things. At best, you’ve optimized the infrastructure, while ignoring the real challenge: improving the delivery pipeline. Same goes for configuration management, and other technologies that don’t establish meaningful change. It takes a mix of cultural overhaul, management buy-in, and yes, technology. I didn’t see anyone at the conference promising silver bullets. But at the same time, there were some concrete next steps for teams looking for accelerate their efforts.

#4 The cloud wars have officially moved above IaaS.

IaaS is definitely not a commodity (although pricing has stabilized), but you’re seeing the major three clouds working hard to own the services layer above the raw infrastructure. Gartner’s just-released IaaS Magic Quadrant shows clear leadership by AWS, Microsoft, and Google, and not accidentally, all three sponsored SpringOne Platform. Google brought over 20 people to the conference, and still couldn’t handle the swarms of people at their booth trying out Spring Boot! An integrated platform on top of leading clouds gives the best of all worlds.

Great infrastructure matters, but native services in the cloud are becoming the key differentiator for one over another. Want services to bridge on-premises and cloud apps? Azure is a strong choice. Need high performing data storage services? AWS is fantastic. Looking at next generation machine learning and data processing? Google is bleeding edge. At SpringOne Platform, I heard established companies—including Home Depot, the GAP, Merrill Corp—explain why the loved Pivotal Cloud Foundry, especially when it integrated with native services in their cloud of choice. The power of platforms, baby.

#5 Data microservices is the next frontier.

I love, love that we’re talking about the role of data in a microservices world. It’s one thing to design and deliver stateless web apps, and scale the heck out of them. We’ve got lots of patterns for that. But what about the data? Are there ways to deploy and manage data platforms with extreme automation? How about scaling real-time and batch data processing? There were tons of sessions about data at SpringOne Platform, and Pivotal’s Data team wrote up some awesome summaries throughout the week:

It’s almost always about data, and I think it’s great that we had PACKED sessions full of people working through these emerging ideas.

#6 Pivotal is making a difference.

I’m very proud of what our customers are doing with the help of Pivotal people and technologies. While we tried to make sure we didn’t beat people over the head with “Pivotal is GREAT” stuff, it became clear that the “Pivotal Way” is working and transforming the how the largest companies in the world build software.

The Gap talked about going from weeks to deploy code changes, to mere minutes. That has a material impact on how they interact with their customers. And for many, this isn’t about net new applications. Almost everyone who presented talked about how to approach existing investments and find new value. It’s fun to be on this journey to simplify the future.

Want to help make a difference at Pivotal and drive the future of software? We’re always hiring.

Author: Richard Seroter

Richard Seroter is Director of Developer Relations and Outbound Product Management at Google Cloud. He’s also an instructor at Pluralsight, a frequent public speaker, the author of multiple books on software design and development, and a former editor plus former 12-time Microsoft MVP for cloud. As Director of Developer Relations and Outbound Product Management, Richard leads an organization of Google Cloud developer advocates, engineers, platform builders, and outbound product managers that help customers find success in their cloud journey. Richard maintains a regularly updated blog on topics of architecture and solution design and can be found on Twitter as @rseroter.

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