SalesForce.com and VMware jointly announced a new PaaS offering called VMforce. This is a huge announcement that has a very strong impact on the Cloud ecosystem. Let’s see what it means to us.
The enterprise application development platform is dominated by two obvious platforms – .NET and Java. I qualified my statement with the ‘enterprise’ keyword because other platforms like LAMP, Ruby on Rails, Python are great for consumer web apps and they are not the first choice for building the Line of Business (LoB) applications. So, when the enterprise wants to seriously look at the Cloud, they want a platform exposing either .NET or Java as a service. The application platform on the Cloud is technically called as the Platform as a Service (PaaS). Till date, PaaS is typically associated with Microsoft’s Windows Azure Platform, Google App Engine and Force.com. Windows Azure is the preferred platform for all the .NET developers. In the last one year, Microsoft’s continuous investments in Azure made it comprehensive and mature for the businesses to go live on the Cloud. Java developers had to settle for the limited capabilities offered by Google App Engine. Right from the day of announcement of Java runtime on App Engine, Google did very little to entice the Java community. Moving an enterprise Java app to GAE is not really straight forward. GAE doesn’t support all the capabilities of Java EE. Even for the web applications, there are quite a few constraints that force the developers to re-factor the application to run on GAE. Moving an app back and forth from the local datacenter and GAE is not easy. So, there has been no comparable PaaS offering to Azure for Java developers. In one of my articles, I covered how Sun lost the opportunity of delivering the Java PaaS to the community. This gap is now being filled by VMforce. They want to make VMforce the defacto Cloud platform for Java developers. VMforce for Java developers would be what Azure is for .NET developers. VMforce PaaS Offering
But why did VMware join hands with SalesForce.com? VMware has a proven stack for the Cloud in the form of vSphere and vCloud. They never wanted to compete directly with the IaaS providers like AWS or GoGrid. Instead, VMware wants to capture the Private Cloud market by aggressively competing with Microsoft and others. On the other hand, SalesForce.com has been in Cloud services business for a while and has become synonymous with SaaS. They also started to expose the middle tier that powers their CRM through the force.com PaaS offering. SalesForce.com has the right level of infrastructure that is ready to scale. But just virtualization combined with the right infrastructure doesn’t offer an exciting platform for the developers. VMware made two strategic investments last year. They acquired a Java framework and tools company called SpringSource and a Message-Oriented-Middleware (MOM) company called RabbitMQ. This investment made VMware ready for a complete platform offering. Just like VMware brings an abstraction layer between the real hardware and the OS, SpringSource adds a layer between Java runtime and enterprise applications. Java developers targeting SpringSource can easily move apps across multiple environments. Message Queuing is very important for enterprise application scalability. The combo of SpringSource and RabbitMQ offer a powerful and scalable enterprise Java environment. Now, when we look at the equation, it becomes pretty interesting. VMware offering the SpringSource framework for the on-premise servers and the Private Cloud that can be further extended to the Public Cloud hosted on SalesForce.com. Add the LoB components, the multi-tenant capability, enterprise database and the UI widgets that are already a part of force.com, they have a pretty solid PaaS in the making. Deployment Scenarios
Who should be worried about this announcement? It is Google! They have a serious contender in VMforce. As a developer, I prefer setting up SpringSource environment on my local machine and use Eclipse to seamlessly deploy across my local server, Private Cloud or on the VMforce Public Cloud. I need not heavily re-factor my applications for the Cloud anymore. Relying on a proven Java framework like Spring gives the developers the confidence to standardize their apps across multiple deployment environments. But, should Microsoft be worried about this announcement? Yes. But not as much as Google! Microsoft did the right thing by bringing .NET to the Cloud early and helping the developers make a smooth transition. For any Microsoft shop, the first choice is Azure and Microsoft will continue to lead in that space.
source : Janakiram (Microsoft)