VMware drops hints about Salesforce.com partnership

Company sees opportunities to provide infrastructure, frameworks and managability for SaaS applications

A senior VMware executive offered several broad hints about the nature of the company's upcoming partnership announcement with Salesforce.com, but stopped short of revealing exactly what the companies have planned.

Later this month, VMware and Salesforce.com will announce details of a joint product called VMforce. A Web site created ahead of the announcement offered little insight into the product, other than to say that Paul Maritz, president and CEO of VMware, and Marc Benioff, chairman and CEO of Salesforce.com, will host a webcast on April 27.

"We are not going to be in the business of building enterprise applications, but there are two areas of opportunity," said Raghu Raghuram, senior vice president and general manager of virtualization and cloud platforms at VMware, when asked about VMforce during a stopover in Singapore.

The first opportunity lies in the infrastructure, services and application development frameworks that are needed to help application vendors buld SaaS applications "better, faster and cheaper," while the second opportunity involves helping companies better manage the SaaS applications that they have come to depend upon, Raghuram said.

While rapidly rising demand for SaaS (software as a service) applications is a phenomenon that is largely driven by business executives, not IT managers, companies still face the same issues they confront with other, non-SaaS applications, such as how to manage access to the applications and the data that flows in and out of them, he said.

Other issues that companies must face with SaaS applications include security concerns, compliance requirements, and managing the service levels that application and service providers are contracted to meet.

"We feel that those are natural extensions to what we do, so that's where this [partnership] comes in," Raghuram said.

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