Cloudbees bets big that the dev/IT universe is ready for Jenkins everywhere

Cloudbees’ decision to drop its PaaS, or platform as a service, to focus on continuous integration and delivery is a bit like a car maker deciding to stop building cars to focus on building assembly lines instead. The analogy is imperfect but you get the picture.

Continuous integration is a software engineering method which requires the merging of all working copies of a piece of software into a shared mainline or trunk repository as the project continues. In traditional software development, integration happened infrequently or at the end of the process, which often led to all sorts of problems getting various pieces of the application to work together.

Cloudbees CEO Sacha Labourey (pictured above) said Jenkins, an open-source continuous integration (CI) product, has been a focus for a while, but now it is the sole focus as [company]Cloudbees[/company] helps PaaS customers move to Cloud Foundry, Google App Engine, AWS Elastic Beanstalk, Heroku etc.

The reason for this change of plans (or, ugh, pivot)? “In the last two years the market as started to shift from continuous integration to delivery and what’s interesting is that Jenkins is not only used by developers any more but is becoming the hub where dev, devops and IT people meet. It is where you define your end-to-end pipeline, from source repositories to Chef and Puppet deployments — it becomes your big IT orchestrator, and as such becomes as critical as your production environment,” he said.

Cloudbees’ product roster is now Jenkins Enterprise Jenkins Operations Center and [email protected], a cloud-based service.

And the Jenkins ecosystem has boomed. Where there were 200 plug-ins a few years ago there are now at least 1,000, he said. And, it doesn’t hurt that [company]Google[/company] has embraced Jenkins for use with Google Compute Engine and Google App Engine.

Cloudbees’ founders came from [company]Jboss[/company], now part of [company]Red Hat,[/company] which gives them a good idea of which open-source projects can support a business, Labourey added. CloudBees’ CTO, Kohsuke Kawaguchi, doubles as founder and community lead for the open source Jenkins project, according to the company.

Jeff Schneider, CEO of Austin-based integrator MomentumSI, welcomed Cloudbees’ move with open arms because he sees Jenkins in the “vast majority” of his clients. “It works, it has a huge ecosystem, it’s gaining traction and is an extremely important element in continuous delivery,” he noted. He also felt it was striking that there wasn’t a enterprise-grade licensed version of the tool already available.

But this move also brings up the long-simmering question of whether a full PaaS is overkill for most companies. A full PaaS encompasses a set of integrated set of services — for database, load balancing, continuous delivery etc. — that developers use not just to build and test applications but to deploy them once that is done.

Schneider said Jenkins’ narrower focus makes it an easier sell because the CI tool is typically selected and paid for out of the same application development budget, whereas PaaS can require buy-in from many more stakeholders.

The countervailing argument is that companies are just not ready for continuous delivery — by Jenkins or any of its competitors — yet. And there are competitors, products like CircleCI, Atlassian’s Bamboo, Codeship, Wercker, and others.