News Analysis: Salesforce.com and VMware Up The Ante In The Cloud Wars With VMforce

Published on April 29, 2010 by R "Ray" Wang

VMWare and Salesforce.com Battle For The Hearts And Minds Of Cloud-Oriented Java Developers

On April 27th, 2010, Salesforce.com, [NYSE: CRM] and VMware, Inc. (NYSE: VMW) formed VMforce, a strategic alliance to create a deployment environment for Java based apps in the cloud.  The Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) offering builds on Java, Spring, VMware vSphere, and Force.com.  Key themes in this announcement:

  • Growing the developer ecosystem. VMware and Salesforce.com realize that the key to growth will be their appeal to developers.  The VMforce offering courts 6 million enterprise Java developers and over 2 million using SpringSource’s Spring framework with an opportunity to build Cloud 2 applications.  VMware brings application management and orchestration tools via VMware vSphere.  Salesforce.com opens up its applications, Force.com database, Chatter collaboration, search, workflow, analytics and mobile platforms.

    Point of View (POV):
    By betting on Java and the Spring framework for this Cloud2 PaaS, both vendors gain immediate access to one of the largest developer communities in the world.  Salesforce.com developers no longer have to use the highly flexible, but very proprietary APEX code base to create Cloud2 apps.   Java developers can now reach the large base of Salesforce.com customers and use the Salesforce.com apps and Force.com.
  • Creating cloud efficiencies for Java development. VMforce brings global infrastructure, virtualization platform, orchestration and management technology, relational cloud database, development platform and collaboration services, application run time, development framework, and tooling to the cloud.  Organizations can build code in Java and integrate with apps in Salesforce.com without having to retrain existing resources.  Environments can scale as needed and take advantage of the massive economies of scale in the cloud.

    POV:
    As with all PaaS offerings, cost and time savings include not dealing with hardware procurement, pesky systems management software, configuration and tuning, and multiple dev, test, and production environment set up.  Developers can focus on business value not infrastructure.  What will they do with their free time not scaling up databases and app servers?

The Bottom Line For Buyers – Finally, A Worthy Java Competitor To Azure And An Upgrade Path For Force.com

VMware’s acquisition of SpringSource may have seemed strange in October 2009.  However, SpringSource brings an Eclipse-based IDE, Apache, and Tomcat tools to the table.  vSphere delivers the ability to migrate workloads and manage VM’s.  The Hyperic acquisition provides many key PaaS components.   Force.com will deliver the applications, analytics, search, collaboration, and a solid base of applications customers.  The result — customers can now take advantage of True SaaS solutions and custom build in Java PaaS side by side.  Meanwhile, Salesforce.com can shed the APEX code of the SaaS 1.0 world and moves to an open standard – enterprise Java.   In essence,  organizations can now have their cake and eat it as both VMware and Salesforce.com move to the next generation of Cloud.  While there are many benefits of PaaS, customers moving to VMforce should seek provisions in The Customer Bill of Rights: SaaS.

The Bottom Line For Vendors – Will You Have Your Own PaaS Or Will You Join In?

VMforce represents a new front in the Cloud Wars (see Figure 1).  Similar to the StackWars of the last century, (BEA WebLogic, IBM WebSphere, Microsoft .NET, Oracle Fusion Middleware, and SAP NetWeaver), this war focuses on dominating the tools for creation.  Those legacy vendors who fail to move to the Cloud. adopt PaaS, and deliver true SaaS apps can expect to fade away into history.  Early leaders Google, IBM, and Oracle have some Java PaaS offerings in place.  However, the VMware and Salesforce.com announcement demonstrates first mover advantage in the enterprise Java PaaS Cloud Wars.  Moreover, VMforce now positions itself as a worthy contender to Microsoft’s Azure.  Fast followers will most likely try to build on multiple PaaS platforms.   Expect smart system integrators (SI’s) to own their own PaaS infrastructure to maintain independence.  Independent PaaS vendors (e.g. Gigaspaces, Gridgain, Imaginea, LongJump, and Rackspace Cloud Tools) will prove to be hot commodities in the next 24 months as they become OEM partners and potential acquisition targets .

Figure 1. Major Players In The Cloud Wars

Your POV

Ready to build in the cloud?  Who do you think will emerge as a competitor in the Java PaaS market?  Will you bet on Azure or a Java PaaS solution?   Add your comments to the discussion or send on to rwang0 at gmail dot com or r at softwaresinsider dot org and we’ll keep your anonymity.

Please let us know if you need help with your overall apps strategy.  Here’s how we can help:

  • Assessing SaaS and cloud
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Copyright © 2010 R Wang and Insider Associates, LLC. All rights reserved.

  • Kevin – to date, AWS seems to be more shell than DaaS or PaaS. i think over time they can put the components to move up the stack but so far, I haven’t seen too many use cases. This game will ultimately be about scale. If you notice, these data centers are all near cheap power. These are the manufacturing plants of our century (e.g. hydro electric in the upstate NY region). What do you think? -Ray

  • Ray

    You don’t mention AWS which is fair given that their current services are focused on infrastructure, but with a rich set of such building blocks, what do you see them doing or what should they be doing to move “up stack”?

    Kevin

  • Ray,

    Nice POV (as late as I am to comment, of course). I think you are painting one market that I am not so sure I agree with — just on one thing: VMForce and Azure are not competitors, they aim for different markets.

    I know that MSFT will deny this, but their Azure and related cloud offers — albeit powerful, scalable, and complete, will appeal more to SMB and Mid-large organizations. The ability to run the entire company in the cloud (and I do mean the entire company) and have SaaS and PaaS integrated is a great appeal to those markets, where they don’t want to either bother much with the integration between different PaaS layers or vendors, or they already have their entire solution in similar components on-premise and want to ease of running it in the cloud (I expect this second group to be more prevalent upfront, by the way).

    On the other hand, and with the Java prowess and APEX complexity more suited to complex, enterprise-level projects, Salesforce is aiming to become the IaaS (not sure they can) but at the very least the PaaS for all enterprises, maybe inter-connect wiht others, and eventually run all SaaS in it — VMForce is laying the ground work to run different flavors of SaaS on it.

    Of course, that is my POV – two companies that get Cloud and want to leverage it for different purposes. Interested in seeing where thing go.

    Good post.

  • Wang,
    I work at Microsoft and appreciate the details provided by you around players in cloud space and the platforms they offer.

    I would like to add that Windows Azure does support multiple languages (.NET, PHP, Ruby, Python or Java) and development tools (Visual Studio or Eclipse), along with the interoperable approach, which does make it a strong contender in Java development niche market.

    Rahul

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