Salesforce.com (s CRM) and VMware (s VMW) have teamed up to offer an enterprise Java cloud called VMforce. The offering, which ties the existing Salesforce.com infrastructure to VMware’s SpringSource-based Java platform, is an indication of a larger trend for infrastructure and platform-as-a-service (PaaS) providers to sell not just a platform, but the app. It’s the difference between selling the services of a general contractor or selling someone a house.
As my colleague Derrick Harris wrote in a GigaOM Pro article this weekend (sub req’d):
The combination of cloud services designed for and hosted on cloud platforms seems like a surefire strategy to secure PaaS (or even IaaS) adoption…By creating targeted applications designed specifically for use on their platforms, cloud providers can increase the likelihood of bringing customers into the fold (and can increase their profit margins, as well) by letting applications help sell the platform instead of relying on the platform itself. According to some surveys, at least, businesses presently find SaaS significantly more palatable than straight-up cloud computing.
It’s also a highly anticipated move ever since VMware purchased SpringSource last summer and said it would create platform as a service for enterprises. Essentially, what this announcement means is that enterprise customers can use their existing Java experts to build application on the Salesforce.com infrastructure and link it to Force.com and Salesforce.com databases and services.
Under the hood, Salesforce.com is running VMware’s software in its own data centers for the VMforce cloud. It’s the first PaaS offering for VMware, which is continuing its march up the cloud stack, and also shows how influential Salesforce.com can be when it comes to influencing enterprise customers. When asked if VMware would host its Java cloud with any other provider, Mitch Ferguson, senior director of Alliances at VMware, said the company was currently focused on this product.
The VMforce offering will be available in developer preview at some undisclosed time this year, and pricing will be announced at that time. Maybe VMware President and CEO Paul Maritz will announce it when he speaks at our Structure 10 conference in June.