Salesforce.com and VMware are joining forces to take advantage of what they see as a major new business opportunity - giving the world's 6 million Java developers a ready migration path to a cloud application development environment. The two partners have unveiled VMforce, a cloud development platform based on the Force.com custom application development platform and the Spring Java framework from VMware's SpringSource Division.
SAN FRANCISCO-What Salesforce.com has
done for enterprise sales professionals with its Sales Cloud applications and
for custom business application developers with its Force.com platform it will
now try to do for the burgeoning community of enterprise Java software
Salesforce has teamed up with VMware to
create VMforce, a secure, highly scalable cloud development platform based
on Spring Java framework, which is owned by VMware's SpringSource division and
is reputedly used by more
than 2 million of the world's 6 million Java developers. VMforce will also
include VMware's vCloud technology, which is designed to simplify the
management and performance of multiple enterprise applications on the VMware
vSphere cloud operating environment.
VMforce will give developers access to Salesforce's Force.com platform
services, including the database, workflow management, Chatter social
collaboration platform, search and application performance analytics.
The IT industry is in the midst of another major technology change in which
enterprise applications are moving into the cloud to serve a new generation of
highly mobile devices, which now includes the latest tablet computers, such as
the Apple iPad, along with all the many Web-connected smartphones and mobile
computers, said Salesforce.com CEO Marc
Benioff said that the Facebook social collaboration application is the new
paradigm for application development and that from now on most new and
innovative enterprise applications will have social and collaborative features
to serve the needs of enterprise workgroups.
Denis Pombriant, principal analyst with Beagle Research, which specializes in
cloud computing and customer relationship management market analysis, said VMforce will likely appeal to a lot
of enterprises that would like to have access to a cost-efficient way of
moving Java applications to the cloud.
"There is a heck of a lot of legacy code-Java code-good code, I think,
that's keeping a lot of organizations from migrating to cloud computing in a
more aggressive way. In other words, the cost of doing something about these
legacy applications can be quite high," Pombriant said.
VMforce "provides a very logical, inexpensive and seamless-or nearly
seamless-approach to getting Java applications to run in the cloud," he said.
It also looks like both VMforce partners-Salesforce and VMware-will get
important benefits from the relationship. "I think Salesforce gets access to
the Java community in a way it's never had before," Pombriant said. Salesforce
gets a chance to sell cloud computing services to up to 6 million Java
developers "who predominantly develop for the enterprise, a place where
Salesforce wants to be," he noted.
Meanwhile, VMware gets access to a large new community that will likely need
the virtualization products it moves into cloud computing and an opportunity to
sell the Spring Java framework to even more Java developers.
Pombriant said he believe that the first market for VMforce will be existing
Salesforce customers that have large catalogs of Java applications that they
would be willing to move into the cloud.
Just as the Force.com customization platform won grassroots adoption by business
users, "I think that VMforce could be a grassroots effort for adoption within
organizations already predisposed" to using Salesforce's products.
But he said it will take time for the adoption of VMforce to gain momentum. Benioff
said a developer preview of VMforce will start later this year. After that,
the partners will need to spend a year focusing on building a portfolio of case
studies and success stories to show the technology works as promised.
However, at least one Salesforce and VMware customer said he is already sold
on the concept.
Dave Smoley, CIO of Flextronics, an
electronics manufacturing services provider based in Singapore,
said that he already knows how he would use the VMforce technology in his
company. Smoley took the stage at the April 27 VMforce introduction flanked by VMware
CEO Paul Maritz and Benioff, said his
company has Java applications in operation now that the company would use more
widely in its global operations if it could move them into the cloud.
Flextronics has 130 manufacturing plants in 30 countries. Smoley said he has
one Java application in mind that Flextronics has deployed across several
plants and would like to get it running around the world. "Today if I put that
into a factory, I've got to put servers in. My IT guys have to build it out,
and it takes time," he said.
But if he had access to a platform like VMforce, the company would be able
to deploy such applications with "tremendous speed and tremendous scalability."
As a result, Flextronics will be closely following the evaluation and
deployment of VMforce, he said.
John Pallatto is eWEEK.com's Managing Editor News/West Coast. He directs eWEEK's news coverage in Silicon Valley and throughout the West Coast region. He has more than 35 years of experience as a professional journalist, which began as a report with the Hartford Courant daily newspaper in Connecticut. He was also a member of the founding staff of PC Week in March 1984. Pallatto was PC Week's West Coast bureau chief, a senior editor at Ziff Davis' Internet Computing magazine and the West Coast bureau chief at Internet World magazine.