New-generation development frameworks like VMforce VMforce, are changing the focus of software development and opening new opportunities for developers, says VMware CTO Steve Harrod. Interviewed by Wikibon cofounder David Vellante and SiliconAngle founder John Furrier on SiliconAngle.TV from VMworld2010 immediately after the announcement of VMforce, the new third-generation development platform being co-developed by VMware and salesforce.com, he said, “Developers want to write apps that reach the largest audience.” But this is becoming a challenge as we move from a Microsoft Windows dominated end-user environment to a multi-platform world with Apple, Android, Windows 7, and the Palm WebOS (now owned by Hewlett-Packard), all playing into an increasingly mobile end-user environment.
“We see all these demands being put on IT now,” he said. “They are being pushed by users who expect the same great new user experience they get from the iPad and their smartphones when they come into the office, but they can’t use the same apps or, often, the same devices.”
These new frameworks change the focus for developers by automating the creation of low-level system calls and similar details. Built on the Java Virtual Engine, VMforce allows developers to focus on higher level issues such as the user interface, leave the details to the framework, and create more platform-independent applications.
“With VMforce a developer can create enterprise-quality applications that, for instance, can support single sign-on, much more easily ,” he said. “The result is a developer can write an application for the public cloud but also make it something enterprises will buy.”
This is the reason VMware purchased SpringSource, which is the basis of VMforce, a year ago. “And as Paul said this morning, developers are voting with their feet and moving to this framework.”
Not only does VMforce make developers more effective, it also “allows us to grab all this great intelligence that’s in these new frameworks and filter it down to the virtual platform. It knows about data access, it knows about how you scale up these apps. It’s all around performance and how you configure and provision the apps.” For instance, the framework can see how many Web pages the app is serving per second and add resources through “the magic of the virtualization layer” to increase performance when that rate hits a predetermined threshold. The framework provides information on how the app is working in the virtualized environment and can feed that data to the Vsphere layer to provide monitoring and control. “It allows you to essentially job schedule these apps.”
Another announcement from the keynote was what he described as an “interesting set of partnerships led by Verizon” to offer VMware-compatible services on their production clouds. “This means that the same apps, management, and security -- exactly what is running in the data center” -- will be available to mobile device users outside the physical enterprise. “This is a major step toward what we think people are moving toward -- a hybrid public/private cloud environment.”
The VDI announcement plays directly into this, creating the potential for users to access their virtual work desktops and key applications on mobile devices over the Internet or internal intranet, giving IT an effective answer to those user demands for more mobile applications that work on their new devices. And, he says, “It is just a cool way to develop apps.”
Action Item: Developers need to pay close attention to the new cloud-based development platforms such as VMforce and SpringSource. We are moving beyond the OS-dominated world we know to a new level of abstraction in which applications will need to run on multiple platforms either natively or as virtual cloud services. These new development platforms make this possible and, in the process, open new opportunities for developers.