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Salesforce and VMware fluff Java cloud posse

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Marc Benioff is stepping up to Java heavyweights IBM and Oracle by fluffing developers' applications with a cloud built on SpringSource, VMware and his Salesforce.com service.

Benioff's SaaS customer relationship management specialist is today expected to announce VMforce, an Amazon- and Heroku-like platform for Java developers to deploy their applications to the cloud without needing to buy or provision their own software or servers. VMforce will also simplify the process of dropping applications on to the cloud using the Salesforce.com platform.

VMforce will run on the open-source Java Spring Framework and Tomcat-based SpringSource tc server from SpringSource bought by VMware, and will sit on Force.com.

Key to the stack is the planned vCloud App Core from VMware that will orchestrate and manage VMware's vSphere and application runtime layer, including the Spring Java framework and tc Server. It will also connect Java applications to the Force.com's services and infrastructure.

Java applications will be able to access Force.com services such as dashboard for search, analysis and reporting on their applications in addition to handling scaling, orchestration, connection to Force.com's underlying Oracle database and the ability to spin up more instances.

There's no price or date for the service, which is to be announced today by chief executive Benioff and VMware CEO Paul Maritz at a bombastic event in San Francisco, California. A VMforce developer preview will be available in the second half of 2010, with pricing due to be announced at the same time.

It's the first time Salesforce.com has reached out to a developer audience using a technology other than its own Java and C# like Apex language. Apex focuses on writing application logic, database triggers and program controllers and provides connection to the platform plumbing.

Salesforce.com believes it can repeat this simplified programming and deployment experience for those building in Java, who have largely been overlooked in the rush to fluff.

Users of PHP, .NET and Ruby have been the chosen ones, thanks to the popularity of scripting and online applications. Many clouds have risen to serve them, from Amazon, Microsoft, Heroku and others.

Salesforce.com and VMware, though, are going up against IBM and Oracle - companies that have made lots of money from their on-site Java software businesses. IBM has made a series of announcements around development and testing of applications that feature its WebSphere software, SuSE Linux, KVM and Java, but seems focused on testing, building clouds for you, or offering a hosted private service behind the firewall.

Meanwhile, Oracle - who bought Java steward Sun Microsystems this year as Sun was trying to fluff its own Java cloud strategy - has ruled out providing its own cloud for Java applications. Instead, Oracle is content to sell its database, Java middleware and hardware to cloud providers.

Ariel Kelman, Salesforce vice president of platform and product marketing, told The Reg his company and VMware are stepping up. "You'd think IBM and Oracle thought Sun would be interested in giving developers a path to the cloud but Oracle and IBM have been silent - they have not articulated a compelling cloud strategy for Java developers."

The choice to go with Spring is significant, too. The Spring Framework is thought to be used by more than two million Java programmers and provides a lightweight and modular alternative to the expensive Java application servers sold by IBM with WebSphere and Oracle with WebLogic.

Both IBM and Oracle offer open-source alternatives, but these are nowhere near as widely used as the Spring framework or Tomcat in tc Server. Also, neither are central to the companies' product offerings: they'd want you to pay for their main, closed-source servers.

Kelman said Spring won't be been tweaked to run on Force.com and you'll be able to run POJOs, servelets and JaveServer Pages on the Framework. ®

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