VMware, Salesforce partner to build Java dev platform in the cloud

Virtualization company VMware and software-as-a-service provider Salesforce.com have joined forces to build a platform for building and running Java applications in the cloud, the two companies announced this week. The new platform, dubbed VMforce, combines VMware's vSphere virtualization platform, the SpringSource Java development framework and Salesforce's Force.com cloud computing platform.

The new platform is aimed squarely at enterprise Java developers. It will run on the Tomcat-based SpringSource tc Server, which was developed by VMware's SpringSource division. It will provide access to the SpringSource Tool Suite, an Eclipse-based integrated development environment (IDE) for creating Java apps. And it will support plain old Java objects (POJOs), Java Server Pages (JSPs) and Java Servlets.

The two companies are billing the new combined development and deployment environment as "the trusted cloud for enterprise Java developers." The VMware vSphere virtualization platform will provide the virtualization layer, as well as access to the vCloud orchestration technology. The vCloud tech will "on-ramp the Java application onto the cloud, automate the wiring of the application to the Force.com database and manage the underlying vSphere virtualization platform," the companies said.

The combined services will also give Java jocks access to the Force.com database, the new Salesforce.com Chatter collaboration service, as well as Force.com's community and services, including search, identity and security, workflow, reporting and analytics, its Web services integration API, and mobile deployment.

The announcement of the partnership was made jointly by Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff and VMware CEO Paul Maritz. "IT is drowning in a sea of complexity," Maritz said during a launch presentation in San Francisco. "We have to remove that complexity and lower cost … but this is not just about reducing cost, it's about enabling new ways of doing business."

"It's the best of both worlds," Benioff said. "This is a transformational point ... Force.com developers are going to love VMforce because they can now use Java for the first time. Force.com developers can incorporate Java into their apps...Java developers will love it because they'll be able to easily write and deploy enterprise quality apps into the cloud five times faster and at half the cost of traditional environments."

Benioff said that VMforce was designed to facilitate the development of applications for "Cloud 2," which he believes will be a platform for enterprise-level applications and services that more closely resemble social platforms, such as Facebook, and employs more mobile applications. Chatter, the company's social networking app, was introduced earlier this year. Developers working on VMforce will be able incorporate prebuilt Chatter social networking and collaboration services into their applications, including profiles, status updates, groups, feeds and document sharing.

Rod Johnson, general manager of VMware's SpringSource division, was also on hand at the launch event. He and Salesforce Vice President of Technology Parker Harris demoed the IDE, drag and drop deployment in the cloud, the VMforce management console and the Chatter social application.

In a blog posting following the launch event, Ovum Senior Analyst Tony Baer characterized the partnership as "the marriage of two suitors that each needed their own leapfrogs: VMware transitions into a ready-made cloud-based Java stack with existing brand recognition, and Salesforce.com steps up to the wider Java enterprise mainstream opportunity."

The companies issued no hard release date or pricing plan for VMforce, but promised to release a developer preview in the second half of 2010.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley.

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