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VMware, Salesforce.com to Launch Java-Based Cloud-Development Platform

Another fighter jet of a development platform joined the battle for the cloud this week, as Salesforce.com and VMware revealed an effort called…seriously…VMforce.

Aside from sounding like a '70s superhero cartoon, VMforce has some muscle behind it. First of all, Salesforce.com has expanded in recent years from being mainly a provider of hosted CRM to being a pretty legitimate cloud player -- see its Force.com development platform, for instance. And VMware is VMware, still the runaway leader in virtualization technologies.

But they key to VMforce is a four-letter word: Java. The VMforce platform will be a cloud-based development platform for Java developers, who number about 6 million or so worldwide, according to Salesforce.com and VMware folks.

"These java developers haven't had a clear path to the cloud," Eric Stahl, senior director of product marketing at Salesforce.com, told RCPU this week. "There's hasn't been a good cloud option for them to date."

This one, a preview of which is due to launch in the second half of this year, sounds pretty good. Essentially, developers can create WAR files in Java, drop them into VMforce and let the platform take things from there. A variety of technologies and platforms, including vSphere, Spring, Tomcat and VMforce itself, automatically deploy files in the cloud and facilitate their maintenance and operation.

VMforce is a "hermetically sealed environment," Mitch Ferguson, senior director of alliances at VMware, told RCPU. "The Java developer downloads [the WAR file] into VMforce, and we handle everything from there," Ferguson explained.

"You're literally depositing a WAR file onto the platform, and it just will scale from there," Stahl added.

VMware and Salesforce.com see their alliance, in some respects, as a Java-based cloud alternative to .NET and Azure. They figure they have numbers on their side, with Java still being the dominant programming language for writing business applications.

"We think Microsoft has laid out a vision to bring .NET developers to the cloud with Azure, and we feel this will be the path for the 6 million Java developers to the cloud," Stahl said. "We're going to make it a more abstract platform where you don't have to deal with the lower-level infrastructure as you do with the Azure platform."

The whole cloud-development picture is starting to look like an old film clip of an aerial battle from World War II -- metaphorically speaking, of course. But we figure that with VMware and Salesforce.com backing a Java effort, the latest squadron to enter this fight will pack some firepower.

What's your take on cloud development? What do you think about VMware and Salesforce.com joining forces? Send your thoughts to lpender@rcpmag.com.

Posted by Lee Pender on April 28, 2010 at 11:56 AM