Salesforce.com and VMware team up on new platform for business apps

Two big players in enterprise technology, virtualization company VMware and sales application maker Salesforce.com, announced today that they’re working together on a new service called VMforce. With VMforce, developers can build business applications using the popular Java language, then run them on Salesforce’s Force.com platform.

The move should help Salesforce reach a broader and more traditional group of business app developers. Salesforce says there are already 72,500 businesses running more than 135,000 apps in Force.com, but those apps are locked in to Force.com — if you want to run them on a different cloud service, you have to build them again from scratch.

On the other hand, there are 6 million enterprise developers using Java, including 2 million using the Spring Framework developed by SpringSource, and those Spring developers can now “simply drag and drop your app onto Force.com to deploy it to the cloud,” according to a blog post from Salesforce Chief Technology Officer Parker Harris. Besides getting access to Salesforce services and infrastructure, those developers will still have a Java app that they can move to other platforms.

VMWare Chief Technology Officer Steve Herrod writes that this is VMware’s first use of the technology from SpringSource, which it acquired last year. The company will be launching other platform application services, all united by an “open” philosophy:

Enterprises are very concerned with the privacy, security and auditability of their applications – something that is often a concern or blocker for public PaaS offerings. VMware’s [platform-as-a-service] will have a significant focus on enterprise-grade qualities — providing strong controls for privacy, identity, and authorization control, allowing applications to be extensions of those in the corporate datacenter.

VMware’s entries into this space will focus on addressing this challenge and, with our partners, creating “Open PaaS” offerings. …

A PaaS offering can be architected in a way that clearly separates layers and avoids the restrictions seen in many of today’s implementations. Furthermore, the parts of a PaaS offering that the applications depend on (e.g. libraries, messaging, data access) can be built using open development frameworks and technologies with liberal licensing programs. Ultimately this makes it easier for an ecosystem of more compatible PaaS offerings to grow, providing choice for the developers and consumers of the applications.

The companies are planning a developer preview of VMforce later this year.