VMforce: Good for VMware, Bad for Oracle

Much has already been written about this week’s VMforce announcement, but my biggest question still hasn’t been answered: Who’s the biggest winner in this partnership -– Salesforce.com (s CRM) or VMware (s VMW)? I’m also interested in who the biggest loser is, as Microsoft (s MSFT), Oracle (s ORCL), IBM (s IBM) and the entire SaaS-based CRM community all seem to have taken hits.

A Big Winner: Salesforce.com

As I wrote last week, the combination of SaaS and PaaS could prove to be powerful, and Salesforce.com was poised to capitalize on this if it only expanded its Force.com user base. Enter VMforce. Now, Salesforce.com can bring in a new — and much, much larger — developer community to build applications atop Force.com. Once they’re in, the hope is that the hooks into Salesforce.com’s various collaboration, support and SaaS tools will make them want to stay, and maybe even expand into Salesforce.com’s other services.

The Biggest Winner: VMware

I suspect VMforce represents a mere seed from which will sprout a vast PaaS empire. If VMware expands its PaaS partnerships beyond Salesforce.com – in the manner it has grown its vCloud ecosystem -– users will be able to port both VMs and code from on-premise environments into the cloud, and then across a variety of cloud providers’ services. The one piece that makes all this flexibility possible: VMware. VMware also is facing an all-out assault on the virtualization front, and rather than battling simultaneously with Microsoft, Citrix, Oracle and Red Hat, it’s changing the nature of the conflict. If it were a matter of comparing apples to apples, customers would face a difficult choice, but VMware is trying to show them they can have an entire fruit basket.

The Biggest Loser: Oracle

Compared with Oracle, Salesforce.com now looks even more appealing as a SaaS option, and VMware looks more appealing as both a virtualization and Java platform option. IBM hasn’t gone anywhere either, and is pushing its cloud offerings hard. Even Microsoft enables Java development on Windows Azure, as does Google on App Engine. Oracle said it won’t be pursuing Sun’s cloud ambitions, but it might be time to rethink those plans, at least in terms of a PaaS offering.

Read the full article here, and be sure to attend Structure 2010 in June, where we’ll certainly here more about VMforce from keynote speakers Paul Maritz and Marc Benioff.