Enterprise Java devs get Force.com cloud access

Developers will be able to run enterprise Java applications on the Salesforce.com cloud platform through an initiative being announced on Tuesday.

Called VMforce, the platform leverages Salesforce.com’s Force.com cloud, VMware virtualization, and VMware’s SpringSource wares for Java application development and deployment. VMware acquired SpringSource, maker of the popular Spring Framework for Java development, last year.

“The whole idea is you have these 6 million Java developers, and they want an enterprise-class cloud to deploy their applications on,” said Eric Stahl, Salesforce.com senior director of product marketing. Force.com now processes 250 million transactions per day with no fixed upper limit, Stahl said.

VMware and Salesforce.com anticipate deployments of applications including enterprise transactional and Web commerce applications on VMforce. With a cloud platform, developers do not have to deal with hardware or software infrastructure but can just focus on innovations in applications, Stahl said.

The Java cloud capabilities address concerns that developers have raised about Force.com being proprietary, said analyst Jeff Kaplan, managing director of Thinkstrategies. “By linking with the VMware folks and now being able to interoperate more [effectively] with the Java environment, that helps to alleviate some of those concerns,” Kaplan said. Developers using the Java capabilities will be more easily be able to move applications off of Force.com if they choose to do so, he said.

VMforce is due to be available in a developer preview in the second half of 2010, with general availability anticipated either later this year or in 2011. VMforce will be deployed atop Force.com and use Spring Framework for enterprise application development. The SpringSource Tool Suite also will be featured, providing Eclipse-based tools. Applications will gain automatic scalability, Salesforce.com and VMware said.

Applications on VMforce will run on the SpringSource tc Server runtime, which is VMware’s Apache Tomcat-based application server optimized for virtual and cloud environments. VMware vCloud virtualization will manage the Java stack and on-ramping applications onto the cloud as well as the underlying vSphere virtualization platform. The VMware vCloud App Core will manage the VMware vSphere layer and application runtime layer, including the Spring framework and tc Server.

In addition to leveraging Spring, developers can deploy applications based on Java technologies, including Plain Old Java Objects, JavaServer Pages, and Java Servlets.

Other components include Force.com Chatter services for collaboration as well as pre-built Force.com services for search, identity, security, workflow, Web services, and mobile deployment.

The Force.com relational database will provide capabilities like scalability, high availability, auto-tuning, and disaster recovery, Salesforce.com and VMware said. The Salesforce.com trusted global infrastructure features such security accreditations as ISO 27001, SysTrust, and SAS70 Type II.

VMware and Salesforce.com are not yet announcing pricing for deploying on VMforce.

Salesforce.com also is positioning VMforce as part of the company’s so-called “Cloud 2” concept, which involves enabling enterprise applications to have capabilities similar to popular social networks, such as viewing user profiles and seeing their pictures.

Google has enabled Java development on its Google App Engine platform, but Stahl said VMforce is more geared to enterprise applications than Google. Asked if VMforce fills a gap left by the never-launched Sun Cloud service, Stahl said he was not familiar enough with that project, which was canceled by Oracle after it acquired Sun.

Kaplan said he did not see VMforce as a response to the ill-fated Sun Cloud effort. “This is aimed at helping make people more comfortable with using Force.com,” Kaplan said.

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