VMware, Salesforce Detail Java App Cloud Venture

Top executives of Salesforce.com and VMware on Tuesday offered details and demonstrations of their new VMforce partnership for bringing Java application development to the cloud.

Marc Benioff, chairman and CEO of Salesforce.com, and Paul Maritz, president and CEO of VMware, appeared on a stage San Francisco together to discuss how developers can use VMware's existing Springforce Tool Suite to build enterprise Java applications that run natively on Salesforce.com's cloud computing platform.

Under the new partnership, the two companies plan to jointly sell and support a new enterprise Java cloud, called VMforce, which VMware and Salesforce.com said will provide an open path to cloud computing.

Maritz said IT departments are drowning in a sea of complexity, especially as new ways of doing business such as social networking are being adopted.

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As a result, companies are looking for ways to simplify, including adopting technology that allows them to act more like a service provider within their organizations, Maritz said.

"This is not about reducing costs," he said. "It's about new ways of doing business. Marc and I agree, we need a new way to deliver IT as a service."

That new way starts with virtualization, which not only makes servers more efficient but which also makes it possible to lift applications into the cloud, Maritz said.

To help Java developers to write applications for virtualized environments, VMware in August acquired SpringSource, which spearheaded the Spring open source community of Java developers. Maritz estimated that over 50 percent of all Java apps are developed using the Spring Framework, which has a base of over 2 million developers.

However, VMware lacked a trusted cloud platform on which to run a new generation of apps that take advantage of new devices and ways of doing business, and so started working with Salesforce.com, he said.

Next: Benioff Describes Next-Gen Developer Technologies

Benioff said that his company's Force.com cloud-based platform is moving towards what he called "Cloud 2," which makes it possible for more user-centered applications running on new devices like the Apple iPad.

There are over 6 million Java developers working on the next generation of Internet applications, Benioff said. "But Java developers don't have a clear path to the cloud," he said.

That is why VMware and Salesforce.com came together, he said. "We believe strongly that it's time to deliver the next generation of developer technologies," he said.

Rod Johnson, general manager of VMware's SpringSource Division, and Parker Harris, executive vice president of technology at Salesforce.com, demonstrated how VMforce allows Java developers to use existing SpringSource tools to build Java apps for Salesforce.com's Force.com cloud.

Java developers on the SpringSource platform can develop their apps as they did in the past, but changes in SpringSource now let them decouple those apps from what Johnson called the "ugly old Java server" and move them to the cloud.

When moved to the Force.com cloud, those Java applications can define and access data stored there, Johnson said.

To do so, developers can just drag-and-drop the Java app to the cloud, and give it instant access to the data, he said.

Developers now also have access to certain Force.com cloud-based services which can be easily integrated into their Java apps, Harris said.

For example, a Java developer can easily add Salesforce.com's ChatterService in order to add a chat function to an app, or can add Salesforce.com's pre-built analytic tools or search engine, he said.

During the VMforce presentation, David Smoley, CIO of custom manufacturer Flextronics, told the audience that the new collaboration between VMware and Salesforce.com is exciting because it brings the concept of platform-as-a-service a step closer towards reality.

Smoley said that platform-as-a-service has tremendous potential. "Making it open and able to take advantage of our investment in Java is a great thing for us," Smoley said.

For example, Smoley said, his company has 130 factories in 30 countries, and deploying a Java application in multiple sites worldwide is currently a laborious process. However, he said, deploying that same app on Force.com would give his company tremendous speed and flexibility.