Salesforce.com and VMware announced a significant joint service called VMforce that allows developers to run Java applications inside Salesforce’s cloud. I would encourage you to read Salesforce’s blog announcement on this as it is quite detailed with regard to what it is and more importantly, why it matters.
From where I sit this seems pretty significant even if Java has strong competition from other development environments for hosted applications. What it means is two things, enterprise Java apps now have a clear path to the cloud, and secondly Java developers have the ability to write apps that take advantage of well established database, identity management, integrated search and mobile capabilities without having to adopt new frameworks or toolsets.
Time will tell whether or not Salesforce is successful in wooing Java developers but I have no reason to believe that they will not be. This partnership takes advantage of widely adopted services like Tomcat, Eclipse, and the Spring Framework, which reinforces the core messages that Java developers are welcome up in the cloud.
Several Enterprise Irregulars have offered their views, I would encourage you to read them:
Lot’s of commentary today about VMware missing their number and CEO Greene out of the top job. For the record, when I was at SAP Ventures we looked at this deal but passed because of the husband/wife team (generally a big red flag for venture deals). It worked out for Diane and Mendel, and it would be stating the obvious to say that I regretted we passed on that deal but not just for the financial implications, Diane is the kind of entrepreneur you want to deal with, sincere and genuine but also really really smart.
Having said that, I think comments like this are misplaced and reactive:
Er, VMware may have tweaked its revenue forecast for 2008 to be “modestly below” previous guidance of 50 per cent growth. Few executives of multi-billion dollar companies usually get fired for 49 per cent growth, especially with an imploding worldwide economy in the background.
[From EMC CEO's ego has cost investors billions | The Register]
VMW has been at the center of a lot of confusion about their revenue forecasts and actual performance. Following the catastrophic Jan 28th conference call with analysts there was a lively discussion on the Enterprise Irregulars message board about their call and the details. In Q4’07 the company put up $412m against a $417m forecast… which being off $5m doesn’t seem disastrous but the fact that they came up $5m short while sitting on $550m in deferred revenues made no sense.
On that Jan 28th call they forecast that revenue would grow from $1.3b to $1.9b in 2008, 50% growth which again does not look bad. What that meant is that the company would need to add about $650m in 2008 revenue to meet their growth target of 50%, but when you consider that $550m in deferred revenue on the books it means they were really treading water for 2008. Basically they weren’t growing 50% at all but rather just covering their bases… and this from a company that had reliably put up 80% revenue growth.
At the time there was a line of thought that the company was resetting Wall St. expectations but today we can comfortably suggest that the company has some serious competitive and market challenges facing them. Blame Wall St. for being overly reactive but what investors were challenging is that apparent deceleration in VMW’s business and no substantive answers for what was going on.
There’s that old saying about how nobody knows you aren’t wearing pants on the web. This often creates a false sense of security that results in people doing stupid things. Take this example from VMware that came about as a result of noticing something interesting in the customer reviews for Fusion on Amazon.
With this context in mind, last week we ran across a couple of negative user reviews on Amazon.com that seemed out of character. They seemed especially out of character given that both posters had posted 5-star reviews of Parallels Desktop for Mac, prior to posting less-than flattering reviews of VMware Fusion. After a little investigation via LinkedIn, based on the user names that the reviewers posted under, we found that these reviews were not from actual users but from employees of a competitor, Parallels.
[From Learning from your Customers in the Internet Age | Team Fusion]
There are two things that come to mind here, the first being that I really dislike anonymous review postings. I make it a point to clearly identify myself on this blog and I almost always post comments, reviews, whatever, under clearly identifiable user names. I don’t have a problem defending what I write, arguing vociferously on any issue that interests me, or being identifiable in my web existence. The point is that it keeps me honest, and I believe it gives me credibility with people who read my stuff because they know it’s me, not me hiding behind a pseudonym.
The second point is that companies need to be proactive about setting acceptable guidelines for employees to follow when representing the company in non-company sponsored forums. With regard to the VMware vs. Parallels post I linked to above, the incident deflected from the legitimate issues regarding products and veered into the tactics that someone at Parallels. VMware won this round because Parallels made themselves look small and deceitful.