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VMware app dev platform gazes beyond SpringSource Java

Eyes Ruby, PHP, .NET

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VMworld VMware says that its Cloud Application Platform – a means of building and deploying applications that has grown up around the SpringSource Java framework – will eventually embrace other programming languages, including Ruby-on-Rails, PHP, and perhaps .NET.

"Initially, we want to target the 2.5-million-strong Spring Java community," Shaun Connolly, VMware vice president of SpringSource product management, said today during a press briefing at the company's annual VMworld trade show in San Francisco, California. "But we want to set the foundation for laying in other languages such as Ruby on Rails and PHP, which are two of the more popular." He also acknowledged that .NET is a possibility.

Rod Johnson, the former SpringSource man who now serves as senior vice president of VMware's application platform division, indicated that in adding Ruby and PHP love, VMware will not acquire relevant dev tool outfits in the way it acquired SpringSource last year.

"Our goal is to provide a really good experience for developers and there are various of ways of doing that," he said. "We have a pretty broad set of technology expertise within VMware so we don't necessarily need to acquire to embrace other developer communities.

"The SpringSource acquisition was a relatively large acquisition that provided an anchor point and an understanding of how to and an ability to address developer communities. We have that DNA inside of the company now, and we've brought in a number of experts in other developer-facing technologies. So there are a number of options on how to move forward."

Pressed, the company indicated that it will somehow embrace open source Ruby and PHP tools. "A lot of these tools are open source, so they are publicly available," VMware senior director of cloud and application services Gerald Chen told The Reg. "At the end of the day, we will address each language individually."

Following the acquisition of SpringSource last year, VMware also snapped up several outfits that now provide a set of application services that the company calls vFabric. These include RabbitMQ, an open source messaging platform for use with so-called cloud-based applications, and GemFire, a distributed data management platform.

The idea is that by bringing all these technologies together, VMware will help developers build applications atop both public "infrastructure clouds" and the private variety. VMware's just-released vCloud Director platform underpins Amazon EC2-like public clouds from VMware partners such as Verizon, but it's also a means of building similar services inside private data centers. Both provide access to scalable computing resources, including processing power, storage, and networking.

Whether you're running on a public cloud or a private cloud or both, the thinking goes, SpringSource and vFabric will facilitate the development of applications suited to such virtualized infrastructures. And, VMware says, these virtualized infrastructures needn't be based on vCloud. The company is also partnering with the likes to Salesforce.com and Google to bring SpringSource and vFabric to third-party public clouds.

VMware is currently working to build a kind of public Spring-based cloud on top of Salesforce.com's Force.com service. This vmForce service is, in the parlance of the day, a development cloud or platform cloud. It's a means of building applications that run on remote infrastructure. Meanwhile, VMware has partnered with Google to let Spring coders build apps for Mountain View's development cloud, Google App Engine.

A source close to VMware tells The Reg that the company is developing its own public development cloud that includes Spring's Java tools as well as tools for other languages, but Johnson and Connolly denied this was the case. The company indicated that it will continue to work with partner online services who offer such services.

"We are going to market through working with partners, and that is the path we're currently going down," said Johnson. Asked if that meant the company would not offer is own development cloud, Chen – after some silence from Connolly and Johnson – said: "That's right."

It would seem that VMware intends to offer Ruby and PHP through Salesforce and Google – or through similar partnerships – though it should be noted that at the moment, Google App Engine only plays with Java and Python.

The company also indicated that it will offer Ruby and PHP tools for building application atop private clouds, but the details are unclear. "Different developer communities have different standards, if you will, for tools they like to develop in," Chen said. "We will [serve developers] through a combination of offering tools and partnering with companies who know these communities as well." ®

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