Back in January I wrote about how VMWare will monetize on the SpringSource acquisition via the cloud, and specifically a Java Platform-as-a-Service. Yesterday, VMWare and Salesforce.com made a big announcement about VMForce - their joint Java Platform-as-a-Service, which leverages the Force.com platform with VMWare virtualization technology and more importantly, the Spring products from VMWare's SpringSource division.
The announcement has been widely covered so I won't go over the details. I embedded the brief VMForce demo from their site.
But I have been thinking about some of the implications of the VMForce offering and announcement and wanted to share those.
- Platform-as-a-Service is coming of age: It has always been my contention that the end game for cloud computing (and by extension, all of IT) is PaaS and SaaS, and eventually, IaaS will remain a niche business. This move by two major vendors, such as Salesforce (who already had a generic PaaS in Force.com) and VMWare (with both its virtualization technology and SpringSource is a major step towards that end game with the creation of a mainstream, enterprise-grade (?) Java platform.
- Developers are the name of the game and will continue to grow in influence. There is an ongoing debate on the roles of operations and development in this brave new world. If PaaS indeed becomes mainstream in the enterprise, there is no doubt that the need for ops personnel in the enterprise is reduced. Some of those jobs will shift to the cloud providers, but some will be entirely and forever lost to automation. On the flip side, the influence of developers (as opposed to both ops and central IT/CIO) is significantly increasing. Platforms such as VMForce further reduce the dependence of dev team on IT - and they become the de facto purchasing decision makers. Adoption of these technologies, consequently, is happening bottom-up - much as open source software did.
- What about the LAMP PaaS? Google App Engine was already a Java PaaS, but developers who used it told me it was not a business-grade platform. Now VMForce offers the market what is supposedly an enterprise-class Java PaaS. There are already two credible RoR PaaS - Heroku and Engine Yard. The big stack that is glaringly missing is perhaps the most mainstream web framework - the LAMP stack. No player has yet taken this one up and it remains an opportunity.
- What else is coming from VMWare. Expect VMWare to offer as part of vCloud, or whatever their latest cloud offering is for service provider and internal clouds, the same Java PaaS capability. Of course, this will not include the functionality provided in VMForce by Force.com, but it will make its Java PaaS offering available to others.
- Reaffirmation that cloud is the way to monetize open source. As I opened this post, this move once again shows that the way to monetize on widely adopted open source software is via the cloud.