My co-worker, Mike Anderson, brought VMforce to my attention yesterday. This morning, the announcements started rolling out.
VMforce is an integration between SalesForce.com and VMWare to create an Enterprise Java cloud. It is an evolution from their existing Force.com cloud. The evolution is in reaction to the comments that Force.com used proprietary technologies.
VMForce uses VMWare and Spring’s tc Server in conjunction with a relational data store.
From a web developer’s perspective, you can deploy directly against the cloud. The Spring tc Server is a customized Tomcat server with additional monitoring and management capabilities. Spring is enhancing their SpringSource Tool Suite (their custom Eclipse IDE) to work with the VMforce cloud. That will allow “seamless” rapid iterative development against the cloud. Overall, anything that can run on Tomcat should run on the VMForce cloud. The big issues would be around database code (it needs to be JPA-compliant) and probably around file handling.
The data store is accessed through standard JPA, much like using Hibernate.
What they are promising is seamless scalability, both in processing and in data.
If you didn’t know this was an enhancement of the existing Force.com cloud you would find part of the announcement to be odd - that the cloud is part of the SalesForce.com infrastructure. So, given the appropriate credentials your Java apps can access your existing SalesForce.com data. Your contacts, customers, leads, etc. are readily accessible. And that includes custom services like the Force.com Chatter service for collaboration.
This differs from Google’s App Engine support in that there are no announced API restrictions. The Google App Engine intentionally removes support for Java standard API methods that they deem to be problematic to support in a cloud.
Pricing has not yet been announced.