I was in Copenhagen last week for VMworld Europe 2010. Monday was an analyst briefing so I wasn’t particularly surprised when VMware CEO Paul Maritz spoke at length about his strategy to attract developers to VMware as a platform. After all most analysts are curious about what happens next.
But seeing Maritz give the same speech to his core VMware audience the next day was impressive. After all – the traditional VMware customer is very much on the ops side of the house – they are neither line of business nor application development. These folks are just not that interested in application development- actually they tend to have a pretty adversarial relationship to the development side of the house. Application development means change, and enterprise ops folks don’t like change, because change can break things. So to see Maritz on a tear about application development was impressive.
If he made the same speech at SpringOne this week it wouldn’t be out of place at all. That’s right. SpringOne – in case you missed it VMware recently acquired SpringSource- the enterprise Java company. Sadly I couldn’t make the show but I will be following up because I know there was significant news waiting to drop at the event. [My spar @cote captures the big Spring picture in quick and dirty fashion here– its a very good read. ]
Maritz said that other major tech firms were still “consolidating the client/server stack” while VMware wanted to capture a new wave of application development.
“Developers are moving to Django and Rails. Developers like to focus on what’s important to them. Open frameworks are the foundation for new enterprise application development going forward. By and large developers no longer write windows or Linux apps. Rails developers don’t care about the OS – they’re more interested in data models and how to construct the UI. Those are the things developers are focusing on now. The OS will fade into the background and become one of many pieces. We plan to do the best job of supporting these frameworks.”
Or as he said to the analysts: “our goal is to become the home of open source and open framework-based development”.
[contextual digression here: In case you didn’t know, Ruby On Rails, the framework for building web apps invented by David Heinemeier Hansson continues to be about as popular with web developers as Apple Macbooks, which is to say, very popular indeed. If you want good-looking data-driven apps Rails is a really good place to start. Frankly though, hearing Maritz name check Django was more surprising – the framework bills itself as “The Web framework for perfectionists with deadlines” but is not nearly as well known. There is a wave of content-driven application development building, and Maritz is evidently hip to that. Adobe acquired Day Software, which is playing in that space. This week Alfresco at its developer conference pushed the message that content applications was all about the web, rather that traditional Enterprise Content Management. I met with Eric Barocca of Nuxeo last week and he is extremely excited by the new developer-driven content management apps he is seeing emerge. Nuxeo had originally been positioned as an application – but now its very much a platform to sell to architects, rather than slideware purchasers. Eric said his goal is to become a platform to integrate innovation happening in open source content management. So VMware certainly isn’t alone. Maritz is evidently just the highest profile executive to really grok what’s happening. Two key standards seem to driving all this content management integration goodness- CMIS and OSGi. I should also strongly credit our client the Apache Software Foundation for providing governance for a lot of this open source code/innovation.] But back to VMware…