A photograph of clouds
Photo: Billy Huynh/Unsplash

Has Pulumi cracked the cloud code?

Protocol Enterprise

Hello and welcome to Protocol Enterprise! Today: Pulumi CEO Joe Duffy talks about competition with HashiCorp and the future of cloud software development, the U.S. government warns about new hacking threats from China and a cold IPO market might have Intel rethinking its plans to list Mobileye this year.

Any language you like

Pulumi CEO and co-founder Joe Duffy’s vision for his open-source cloud engineering startup is to offer developers and infrastructure teams the tools they need to “make the most out of the cloud.”

Duffy talked to Protocol about Pulumi’s start and where it’s headed — including plans for an initial public offering — as well as its competition with HashiCorp’s Terraform and why the company uses AWS as its internal cloud provider.

Pulumi has been in business for five-plus years now. How’s it going and can you give any metrics to support that?

In short, it's going really well. We just hit our five-year anniversary in March this year. We came from a developer heritage, and our bet was the future is really all about empowering developers and bringing software engineering to infrastructure teams. What we found was, frankly, what folks are using in this space is not very good. People thought about giving care and love to developers in a fundamentally different way than infrastructure teams.

You compete against HashiCorp’s Terraform. What's your argument for going with Pulumi over Terraform?

Often we find that Terraform silos are formed. There's “Oh, those five people over there in the corner know Terraform, but nobody else does.” Pulumi allows you to use your favorite language — any great programming language like JavaScript or Python or Go, Java. It meets people where they are rather than you having to learn a proprietary language like with Terraform. So that's the first: It's productivity, it's familiarity.

In May, you announced Pulumi CrossCode. Can you describe that and why it's important?

I've been in and around multi-language technologies for 20 years now. Pulumi multi-language was a fundamental capability that we built into the core of the system, and CrossCode is a way that we do that. CrossCode ensures we have a common object model across the entire cloud, a common experience, common documentation example, so that no matter what language you pick, you're going to be on equal footing when you come to the Pulumi platform. Every cloud has support. We've got close to 100 different cloud providers: AWS, Azure, but others like Cloudflare, Fastly. No matter what you pick, you're going to get a consistent experience for every language, and that's what CrossCode delivers. We think that's sort of the “secret sauce” really to how Pulumi is able to meet any practitioner wherever they are.

Pulumi also announced support for any Java language and YAML in May. Can you talk about the significance of that, why it took until now and the expected impact?

YAML was actually kind of a surprise for our community, because we've been all about general-purpose languages like Java and C# and others, and YAML is more of a markup language. But both of them were because we're increasingly moving up market with larger enterprises.

Java was important because large enterprises make big bets on Java, and we want to be able to connect with those folks and meet them where they are. I would also say the Java ecosystem is just a very vibrant ecosystem with lots of choice in languages.

The YAML side was actually more sort of crossing the chasm and being able to connect with maybe more classical operations teams or folks who didn't want to learn a full-blown language.

Read the full interview with Duffy here.

— Donna Goodison (email | twitter)


Thinking outside your wall: How the path to net zero requires a new approach to collaboration and knowledge sharing: The emissions that make up a full greenhouse gas footprint can emanate from outside the four walls of your own manufacturing operations, like in the case of PepsiCo, where 93% of emissions come from its value chain.

Read more from Pepsico

Made in China … sort of

While Russian hackers always seem to be in the spotlight, don't take your eye off China. Last week, the FBI and MI5 warned that the threat of IP theft, via the Chinese government's unparalleled hacking program, deserves more attention from businesses.

What the agencies didn't offer was a lot of details about which industries in the U.S. and Western Europe are most at risk. But China itself has telegraphed its moves by disclosing which industries it's most interested in developing, according to Lou Steinberg, formerly the CTO at TD Ameritrade.

Some of the industries that face the biggest threat from China — such as energy, aerospace defense technology and quantum computing — are already well aware of it, said Steinberg, now the founder of cybersecurity research lab CTM Insights. But others are thinking less than they should about China coming for their IP, Steinberg told me. Those include the AI/robotics, agriculture, electric vehicle and commercial aircraft sectors. "If you're on their list, they've got an army of skilled people who are trying to figure out how to get your intellectual property," he said.

For cybersecurity teams, stopping this type of attack is different than defending against ransomware, Steinberg noted. The go-to technologies here are data-loss prevention, data exfiltration detection and deception technologies such as tripwires, he said. Rather than expecting to prevent an intrusion every time, the key with stopping IP theft is, "Can you catch it happening and shut it down?"

— Kyle Alspach (email | twitter)


Intel caught many people off guard last December when it announced plans to spin out its Mobileye self-driving technology unit into a separate company via an IPO. CEO Pat Gelsinger explained at the time that taking it public would give investors more visibility into the company’s tech and something to get excited about: Mobileye has historically grown much more quickly than its corporate owner.

Intel filed a confidential prospectus in March, setting the stage for the promised 2022 listing. But in the intervening months, the IPO market has basically fallen off a cliff, with the amount of cash raised falling by 95%, according to data from Renaissance Capital.

Heading into the summer, it seems almost certain that Intel will push back any plans it had to list in the coming months. There is no buzz about Mobileye among the typical crowd of consultants that helps with this kind of thing — in contrast to Ampere, which has also filed a prospectus, signaling an interest in listing.

Intel said that it still plans to take Mobileye public in 2022 and to list the Israel-based unit when the timeline is “most opportune.” And there is no reason to think Intel wouldn’t push the Mobileye IPO back six months. It doesn’t need the cash, and there isn’t shareholder pressure to push it out of the gate, since Intel is the majority owner. Whether market conditions improve in the remainder of the year is an open question, however.

— Max A. Cherney (email | twitter)

Around the enterprise

Matt Hicks is the new president and CEO of IBM’s Red Hat, replacing Paul Cormier, who will become chairman.

Microsoft laid off less than 1% of its 180,000-person workforce, in what has become an annual ritual following the close of its fiscal year at the end of June.

There’s a new speculative execution attack to worry about affecting certain Intel and AMD chips. The mitigations can reduce performance by up to 28%.


Thinking outside your wall: How the path to net zero requires a new approach to collaboration and knowledge sharing: Asking suppliers and associated companies to overhaul the way they work is no small feat, but PepsiCo is taking a three-pronged approach centered around the principles of educating, enabling and incentivizing. The Sustainability Action Center aims to engage and equip value chain partners with tools to undergo their own sustainability journey.

Read more from Pepsico

Thanks for reading — see you tomorrow!

Recent Issues