VMware's Cloud Foundry looks to disrupt the PaaS market

Is VMware building an open source Microsoft Azure killer? What happens to Google App Engine, Heroku, and Force.com?

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Barzdukas also told InfoWorld that it was worth noting that the Windows Azure platform already supports Java, Ruby, PHP and .Net, and it has been in the market for more than a year already.

It's obvious that VMware is going after Microsoft Azure head-on. But this latest move from VMware also brings it into competition with Google, whose App Engine cloud also caters to Java developers, as well as platform specialists such as Engine Yard and Heroku, which both cater to Ruby developers. The move also brings VMware closer to a competitive nature with partner Salesforce.com and the company's Force.com platform-as-a-service.

In the past week alone, VMware has announced two new cloud hosting services, first Mozy and now Cloud Foundry. Both have the potential to upset its partner ecosystem depending on whether the company decides to turn left or turn right at some point down the road.

"With the past two announcements, you could say that VMware isn't stepping on the toes of its provider partners, but it is standing so close to their toes that it is making them uncomfortable," writes Chris Wolf, Research VP at Gartner. "VMware's not a provider in the traditional sense today, but they are building an infrastructure and operational processes that can allow them to become a provider at the flick-of-a-switch."

At the same time, Wolf notes, "VMware can't remain primarily as a platform for Windows applications in an area where Microsoft is a direct competitor. That story always ends the same. So the success of Open PaaS is very strategic to VMware because in my opinion VMware needs a strong application platform to compete against the likes of Microsoft and Oracle long term."

The Cloud Foundry announcement is once again solidifying the fact that VMware is trying to transform itself from a pure virtualization platform play into a cloud services-oriented company. That is crystal clear. What's still in question, as Wolf states above, is what direction VMware will go with this transformed identity and how it will affect its partner ecosystem and its virtualization base users.

For the past 10 years, VMware has focused on and appealed to the system administrator. Year after year, these virtualization administrators flock to VMworld like an annual holy pilgrimage.

But just as VMware transforms itself from a virtualization platform provider to a higher-level cloud company, so too transforms VMworld, from the world's leading virtualization trade show to a multidimensional cloud event. The tagline on the 2011 VMworld website states, "Find Your Cloud at VMworld 2011," and the description for this year's event in Las Vegas reads "the forecast calls for more clouds-public, private, and hybrid-than this desert oasis has ever seen."

Will VMworld attendees find this new line of cloud messaging more intriguing than they did the SpringSource information back during VMworld 2009? Or will we see a new flock of developer attendees show up in numbers to offset the administrator group who are simply looking for ways to manage their virtualization environment and aren't yet concerned with words like "cloud" or "PaaS?"

This article, "VMware's Cloud Foundry looks to disrupt the PaaS market," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in virtualization and cloud computing at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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