Salesforce.com and VMWare hailed the next generation of software development and deployment today at a joint announcement in San Francisco. The two men introduced VMForce, an integration of VMWare a powerful Java development platform and Force.com, the Salesforce application platform for cloud computing.
The significance of the announcement is manifold. First, it opens up access to cloud computing to more than six million Java developers world wide. When delivered later this year, VMForce will enable new or existing Java applications to access data stored in the Salesforce cloud but also to deploy standard Java applications using Force.com as a Java server. The effect will be to make legacy Java applications accessible to cloud computing.
Second, from a business perspective, the announcement stands to accelerate migration of legacy Java applications to cloud computing. This should remove or lower barriers that many enterprises have for migrating their legacy applications.
Third, if this approach is robust and successful (something we have to say about product that has not been released yet), it stands to enlarge the gap between true cloud computing and a resurgent ASP movement. True cloud computing consists of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Software as a Service (SaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS). The resurgent ASP movement is largely defined as providing IaaS only.
One thing that remains cloudy (sorry) is whether a transformed Java application running on VMForce inherits the multi-tenancy that every other Salesforce cloud application has. If not VMForce reduces Force.com to the status of a simple server. This would be a big departure for Salesforce and something that was not alluded to in the presentation. But it is a question that ought to be asked.
Another question worth pondering: What’s next? VMforce for ABAP? Whoa! Could happen, I guess, and that’s the significance of this announcement, I think.