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VMforce - Another Cloud Computing Solution for Java

A PaaS solution for Java applications in Force.com cloud

VMWare and Salesforce.com joined hands to launch VMforce which they claim the world's first enterprise Java cloud. Not sure why it is the first enterprise cloud for Java? We have Java-based cloud solutions from the industry leaders Google (AppEngine), Microsoft (Azure) and from other cloud vendors such as Stax, Rightscale, etc. Can't these host enterprise Java applications? I don't understand why VMforce is claiming their solution is the first enterprise Java solution. It is another PaaS (Platform as a service) solution similar to AppEngine, Azure, etc. In fact SpringSource has the similar solution called SpingSource Cloud foundry that runs on Amazon EC2 infrastructure. The only difference is - VMforce runs on Force.com infrastructure using vSphere 4, a virtualization operating system from VMWare.

VMforce cloud

VMforce is a solution for the Java developer who wants to use Force.com platform and its services such as Chatter. Otherwise it is nothing new compared to SpringSource Cloud foundry. They both provides Spring Framework, SpringSource TC server in run time and Spring IDE(Eclipse based) to deploy the applications into the cloud. With VMforce you will be restricted to use Force.com database, just like Google data store for its AppEngine. Just like AppEngine, VMforce also provides JPA connector to its relational database.

From the salesforce blog:

"Java developers today have no clear path to building next-generation cloud applications. They can build on-premise applications and deploy them on legacy stacks, but installing and integrating the different pieces you need to build a truly useful application can be a nightmare. Or, they can take the same jumbled stack and run it in a hosted environment – renting servers by the hour by the month. While Infrastructure as a Service offerings have some benefits if you want to test an application or need spike capacity, they still require the developer and the systems administrators to do a lot of heavy lifting".

"Before VMforce, a Java developer that wanted to run his applications in a cloud had to assemble, configure, integrate, and manage a cumbersome set of disparate pieces ranging from storage to application servers and a database. Even then the developer was only half-way done. Real business applications need more than just an app server and a database".

I don't completely agree with this statement. Even with Google AppEngine you don't need to worry about database, storage, application servers. But I agree that VMforce is providing more tools(enterprise tools?) compared to AppEngine.

The main advantage with the VMforce is Java developers can build the apps which are social(social profiles, status updates, feeds, content sharing), accessible from mobile devices, and leverage Force.com's platform elements including reporting, analytics, search, business process management, user and identity management, web service API and application security. The disadvantage is your application is completely dependent on Force.com database and services, which makes very hard to move to different cloud provider. Until Distributed Management Task Force's Open Virtualization Format (OVF) becomes the de facto standard, this is a known interoperability issue with all the PaaS providers.

More Stories By Hari Gottipati

Hari K Gottipati is a software professional, consultant, speaker and freelance writer who specializes in Java, mobile computing, cloud computing, virtualization and Ajax. Proven Java enterprise lead, competitive analyst, technical architect and loves coding. Expert in analyzing market landscape for startup ideas and molding them into successful products with the technical/competitive advantage. Regularly writes for Syscon media, O'Reilly publications and his quotes can be often found in various technology news/magazines. Well known blogger and his blogs can be found at sys-con.com, onjava.com and xml.com. Speaks at various events on latest technologies including Mobile, Cloud computing, Ajax, Web 2.0, Web OS and of course Java. Hari serves on technical advisory board for various small to medium size companies where he provides technical vision for the future. Worked for many wireless startups, as well as big companies including Yahoo, Travelocity, and Motorola. Passionate about technologies and spends most of his time exploring bleeding edge software technologies.

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