May VMforce be with you, admins?

VMforce, the new Platform as a Service from VMware and Salesforce.com, targets the developer community. But will it affect how admins do their jobs? Our Advisory Board chimes in.

VMware and Salesforce.com are clearly targeting developers with VMforce, their new Platform as a Service (PaaS) offering.

VMforce is a Java-based hosted platform for developing and deploying social, mobile and collaborative applications -- what VMware and Salesforce.com have dubbed "Cloud 2 apps." The platform will run on Salesforce.com's Force.com infrastructure and utilize VMware's SpringSource and vSphere technologies.

Despite the obvious focus on the development community, VMware's involvement has sparked interest in VMforce among administrators and systems engineers in the data center. Is it just curiosity, or could VMforce actually affect IT pros and how they do their jobs? Members of our Server Virtualization Advisory Board weigh that possibility as they answer this question:

Should admins and systems engineers pay attention to VMforce, or is it just for developers?

CJ Metz, First American

While VMforce itself will of course be directed to Java developers, there is good reason for the IT admin to keep an eye open here. This cloud-based service offers the developer the ability to build on a platform that is not run inside the organization. Because of this, the need for internal server support related to these products is removed. This piece of the puzzle is very important from an admin/engineer perspective, with them no longer needing to develop or maintain the underlying infrastructure.

I think the big thing to realize here is that, with the launch of this product, we will begin to see an even larger push toward Software as a Service (SaaS). As we begin to see more and more applications moved from the internal data center into the cloud, the IT admin/engineer job will change. We will have to wait to see about the adoption of VMforce, but this could be indicative of big changes headed down the pipe.

Eric Siebert, Boston Market

I'd say it depends. VMware admins and engineers should take note of VMforce as the application layer is blending into the virtualization layer. But VMforce is aimed at application delivery in public cloud environments, so unless you are responsible for managing those public clouds, most admins are not going to care about VMforce right now. However, as private clouds are becoming increasingly popular, the VMforce framework could be leveraged in many private data centers as well.

VMware seems committed to more than just server virtualization. As more and more applications change their operational and delivery models to better integrate with virtualization, VMware admins are most likely going to be involved with more than just the server virtualization layer. As a result, VMware admins should keep an open mind and try and learn as much about the application layer. They will most likely be dealing with it at some point in the future.

Shannon Snowden, New Age Technologies

The acquisition of SpringSource was a good thing to position VMware for a venture like VMForce. On the surface, the SpringSource purchase seemed a bit out of VMware's space, but nothing will make vSphere become a seasoned cloud platform faster than deploying and supporting an actual business-critical cloud.

As important to VMware as SpringSource is, the second step they've taken is just as important: partnering with Salesforce.com. Salesforce has the methods and proven capabilities to run business-critical cloud applications, and they can teach VMware quickly what it takes to deliver and support a real cloud platform.

The first beneficiaries will be developers, and they probably will show the most interest in VMForce initially. However, VMware's involvement in such a large-scale cloud platform will be of significant interest to engineers and administrators, because VMware will learn new methodologies and put new features in their future platform products.

Dave Sobel, Evolve Technologies

It's my take that VMforce is focused on developers, considering that the push is to have this run in Saleforce.com's infrastructure, which is not something typically run or managed by administrators and system engineers. This is a new platform to run Java apps on, as an alternative to vSphere private clouds.

There will be some administrators who support Salesforce.com-type apps who will want to watch this development. These administrators should understand how to support applications deployed in this manner. Additionally, system architects will want to have an understanding of the platform in order to make recommendations. But by and large, this is not going to be an administrator-driven platform.

Have a question for the Server Virtualization Advisory Board? Email Colin Steele, Site Editor.

This was last published in May 2010

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