The VMforce cloud platform in development by EMC VMware and Salesforce.com will be most useful for customers with existing Salesforce deployments, but can technically be used to build any Java application, a VMware official says.
The VMforce collaboration -- billed as "the first enterprise cloud for Java developers" -- was announced in April, but the technology is still under wraps with a preview for developers promised this fall. VMware's Rod Johnson, general manager of the SpringSource enterprise Java division VMware acquired last year, provided an update on VMforce development in an interview and discussed potential use cases.
"The absolutely killer app for it is where you have Salesforce data," and need to build enterprise-class applications that boost the capabilities of Salesforce while interacting with that data, Johnson says. "It will enable people to build applications and technology from anywhere and get excellent performance because it runs in the same data center."
"But [VMforce] is certainly not limited to that," he adds. "It will also be capable of running general enterprise Java applications. You can go build any application you'd like and benefit from Salesforce's operational experience."
With VMforce, Java developers will build applications using SpringSource, and then drag and drop the app into the VMforce cloud. Behind-the-scenes tasks like provisioning resources, configuring runtimes, and connecting to Salesforce's Force.com database are taken care of automatically. VMforce will also come with built-in integration to mobile platforms and social collaboration tools.
VMware still hasn't set a specific availability date for VMforce, but more details about the service will be revealed at the SpringOne conference in October, Johnson says. Developing the platform, which uses VMware's vSphere virtualization technology, requires giving Java developers a familiar interface while making their applications work with the Salesforce data model, he says.
While infrastructure-as-a-service cloud platforms such as Amazon's EC2 require customers to manage their own virtual servers, platform-as-a-service tools like VMforce will make many of those manual tasks unnecessary. The only thing developers have to focus on is writing applications.
Each cloud model has its pros and cons. Infrastructure-as-a-service can work with any programming model, but requires more management, including patching and load balancing. With platform-as-a-service, developers can likely get an application up and running on a cloud more quickly, but the applications may be less portable and they have to be built using the programming language supported by the cloud vendor.