Salesforce.com and VMWare hailed the next generation of software development and deployment today at a joint announcement in San Francisco. The two men introduced VMForce, an integration of VMWare a powerful Java development platform and Force.com, the Salesforce application platform for cloud computing.
The significance of the announcement is manifold. First, it opens up access to cloud computing to more than six million Java developers world wide. When delivered later this year, VMForce will enable new or existing Java applications to access data stored in the Salesforce cloud but also to deploy standard Java applications using Force.com as a Java server. The effect will be to make legacy Java applications accessible to cloud computing.
Second, from a business perspective, the announcement stands to accelerate migration of legacy Java applications to cloud computing. This should remove or lower barriers that many enterprises have for migrating their legacy applications.
Third, if this approach is robust and successful (something we have to say about product that has not been released yet), it stands to enlarge the gap between true cloud computing and a resurgent ASP movement. True cloud computing consists of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Software as a Service (SaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS). The resurgent ASP movement is largely defined as providing IaaS only.
One thing that remains cloudy (sorry) is whether a transformed Java application running on VMForce inherits the multi-tenancy that every other Salesforce cloud application has. If not VMForce reduces Force.com to the status of a simple server. This would be a big departure for Salesforce and something that was not alluded to in the presentation. But it is a question that ought to be asked.
Another question worth pondering: What’s next? VMforce for ABAP? Whoa! Could happen, I guess, and that’s the significance of this announcement, I think.
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Great analysis on vmforce announcement.
At the outset vmforce will benefit vmware by providing their Java developers instant access to cloud services. Also vmforce will benefit salesforce.com by increasing adoption of Force.com platform among Java community. From developers perspective I believe today’s announcement is a ground breaking one that is a win-win for both salesforce.com and vmware.
However today’s announcement is short on details around business deployment scenarios and pricing models. I hope today’s announcement is just an incremental step towards a much larger strategy on open cloud infrastructure that addresses some concerns around cloud computing like security and scalability for enterprises.
Currently salesforce.com lacks support for private clouds for enterprises and only supports public clouds through its hosting services. Majority of enterprise customers will be reluctant to migrate to public clouds until concerns around security are addressed. Industry market trends point to migration towards “private/managed” clouds by enterprise customers in the next 3-5 years time-frame. I hope salesforce.com will announce products or partner with companies like vmware to fill this gap. In addition current public cloud deployments models have some limitations on scalability and performance front. While multi-tenancy is good from h/w utilization perspective, due to the inherent sharing model it is not ideal for compute intensive and complex data processing applications. Until this limitation is addressed few enterprises will be willing to migrate to public clouds.
I hope trailblazers like salesforce.com and vmware will address these limitations around public clouds soon. On a final note we seem to have a new “— as a service” acronym pop up every other day. Unless each and every one of these services is tied to “customer value proposition” we will just end up with technical jargon that only confuses the end customer.
“One thing that remains cloudy (sorry) is whether a transformed Java application running on VMForce inherits the multi-tenancy that every other Salesforce cloud application has. If not VMForce reduces Force.com to the status of a simple server. This would be a big departure for Salesforce and something that was not alluded to in the presentation. But it is a question that ought to be asked.”
This is the EXACT question that was running through my mind during the presentation today. If it’s single tenant, this seems nothing more than branding and hype for something that already exists on Amazon EC2, GoGrid, etc.