VMware and Salesforce.com are pitching VMforce as a way to bridge Java application development and cloud computing. While the developer trial release won't be available for months, the two companies are attempting to entice developers with the ability to run applications using Salesforce.com tools. Organizations that use Salesforce.com cloud applications will gain the ability to use that data in Java applications.
Although the developer trial version won't be available until later in 2010,
VMware and Salesforce.com pulled off an impressive demo of VMforce.
Unveiled in San Francisco on April 27 by Paul Maritz, CEO
and president of VMware, and Marc Benioff, CEO
and chairman of Salesforce.com, VMforce is set to be the bridge that brings
enterprise Java developers to the cloud.
Whether that cloud is inside the firewall or outside, VMware and
Salesforce.com want IT managers to shift their focus from maintaining,
inspecting and installing plumbing to building applications that provide
greater business value. If this were being put forward by two guys looking for
angel funding, I'd say, "Good luck with that." But instead it's being
offered by two companies with a proven track record of providing transformational
Of course, we live in a world driven by competitive pressures that drive
puffery and hyperbole along with real technology advances. Today I only have
the word of two parties with a vested interest in showing only the strengths of
VMforce. Any weaknesses of the offering were kept from view. While the overall
capability of VMforce can only be vaguely determined from the broad outlines of
the carefully choreographed demonstration that I saw today, it must be said
that it was a good show, overall.
For a look at the VMforce demo, click here.
VMware fits into VMforce through its pervasive and category-leading
virtualization platform. Abstracting application workloads from the underlying
hardware is the first-and most critical-step in a process that can lead to
placing that workload in the cloud. Salesforce.com fits in by providing a
multitenant, business-proven infrastructure that shows how applications can be
provided as a service. And Salesforce.com is no doubt hoping that the contact
information and its Force.com platform will be the honey that draws customers
to choose VMforce. My takeaway is that both companies have shown that it is
theoretically possible for enterprise customers to leave the IT dirty work to someone else, such as VMforce.
As Benioff crowed and Maritz plain-dealed, I felt like I was watching the IT
industry get pantsed. In the good old days, individual customers could be
cajoled into buying massively overprovisioned systems. And as Moore's
Law tramped along leading to fantastic advances in computing power, individual
enterprises got pulled along, forced to keep up with the Joneses or lose out to
swifter competitors. What if that cost of doing business could be socialized
and paid for on a predictable, monthly basis? Could it really mean a focus on
developing business apps? Could that set the stage for the beginning of what
Benioff called the "mobile Internet computing" age?
And it was the possible answers to these questions that gave me pause during
the presentation. A triple threat seemed to be lurking behind the sunny blue
sky that permeated the intimate luxury of the Palace Hotel like a disaffected
sibling skulking next to a new infant's crib. There is the small matter of all
those applications and delicate business processes that are running just
fine-thank-you-very-much in private data centers. Incumbent software and
application makers including Microsoft and Oracle have no real love of the
cloud model. And, let's face it, existing IT staff are probably less than
enthused about rushing their jobs off to a multitenant data center in the middle
Future technology and business practices don't rise up from nothing.
Successful technology gives rise to methods and other technologies that make
once thriving practices obsolete. Moore's
Law, ever-expanding wireless coverage, near-ubiquitous Internet service
availability and the advent of powerful yet small devices are the driving
factors that could make VMforce a success. When the developer trials become
available it will be interesting to see if taking Java to the cloud will turn
into an example of the new successfully supplanting the old.