Salesforce.com and VMware put Java in the cloud

Software-as-a-service CRM provider Salesforce.com and virtualisation infrastructue vendor VMware yesterday unveiled a joint project that allows developers to build and execute Java applications on the former’s cloud platform, named Force.com.

The VMforce service, based on the SpringSource Java development framework that VMware acquired in 2009, will be available in the second half of this year. Pricing details have yet to be revealed.

At a press conference in London this morning, the two companies drew a distinction between VMforce and existing “infrastructure-as-a-service” offerings such as Amazon Web Services.

Unlike those services, which offer base level computing resources such as storage and processing, Salesforce.com’s cloud platform contains within it a data model for business applications and pre-built services such as search, analytics and collaboration functionality.  For this reason, they claim, it will be easier to build enterprise-class applications using VMforce.

There had been speculation that VMware, which acquired email software vendor Zimbra earlier this year and bought a stake in hosting provider Terremark last year, might launch a cloud platform of its own. This week’s announcement confirms, however, that the virtualisation company seeks instead to provide the infrastructure for other company’s clouds, be they private or public.

For Salesforce.com, the joint project represents a departure from what has been to data a closed platform strategy for Force.com. The Salesforce.com platform has its own development language, Apex, which is Java-like but nevertheless proprietary. VMforce on the other hand, Salesforce.com’s EMEA marketing VP Tim Barker said this morning, will allow organisations to migrate their legacy Java applications on to Force.com if they have already used the SpringSource framework.

Java is one of the most commonly used programming languages, especially in business applications, although the most recent Tiobe programming index found that its popularity has fallen in the last year.

Having been developed in the 1990s by Sun Microsystems, Java is now owned by Oracle, although much of it is available under an open source license. Oracle CEO Larry Ellison was Salesforce.com’s first investor and still owns a stake in the company, although he has been dismissive of the SaaS model’s profitability.

James Gosling, who created Java while at Sun Microsystems, quit Oracle earlier this month.

Pete Swabey

Pete Swabey

Pete was Editor of Information Age and head of technology research for Vitesse Media (now Bonhill Group plc) from 2005 to 2013, before moving on to be Senior Editor and then Editorial Director at The...

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