In a recent presentation and article for CIOs, VMware’s Al Sargent, Group Director for vFabric, outlined why VMware vFabric makes Java a priority inside the IT department and with business lines. This article covers the developer’s viewpoint, and then links developer-oriented functionality to the 5 reasons a CIO cares.

It’s important to first look at examples that developers and architects can appreciate before putting it in “CIO terms.”  While vFabric is a suite of products, let’s just look at the Java application server, vFabric tc Server. There are a number of cool developer-centric capabilities within this application Server:

  • Writing Code: For developers, it’s built to run Spring – making an already productive framework more productive by baking in the bytecode instrumentation of Spring Insight Operations and Spring Insight Developer. This tool also helps reduce project risk because you can quickly find out exactly what code is causing problems before deploying as well as triage problems faster at runtime.
  • Managing Deployments: Deployment can waste a lot of time – you often spend time waiting instead of coding. tc Server uses somewhere between 4x and 40x disk space and 3x to 15x less memory than most competitive products. Start-up times are much faster than many other application servers, and tc Server offers streamlined configuration management, has hot deployment capabilities, and integrates easily with continuous integration servers. There are many other deployment options and capabilities we won’t get into here, but adding vFabric Application Director means you can even automate the deployment of an entire Java application environment (i.e. all tiers) with continuous integration.
  • Increasing VM and JVM Utilization: Today’s architects and developers are asked to make cost-effective decisions for runtime operations as well as development. With VMware virtualization, customers often see a server consolidation ratio of 10 VMs to 1 physical server.  Within the VM and JVM, Elastic Memory for Java (EM4J) works to monitor tc Server’s VM and JVM. EM4J identifies where memory can be better utilized. It also manages memory more effectively for VMware virtual machines by using a memory balloon in the Java heap to reclaim unused memory.
  • Improving Uptime, Scale, and SLAs: Given tc Server is built to run on virtualized infrastructure, a new VM can be brought up very quickly. As well, you can leverage vSphere vMotion technology to move an entire, running virtual machine from one physical server to another with zero downtime. Similarly, session states often need to scale and support clusters of app servers or allow for bursting into clouds or for hybrid clouds to run a single application. To do so, tc Server integrates cleanly with vFabric’s in-memory, distributed, Java-based data platform (vFabric GemFire) to replicate session information on all GemFire nodes and even store session objects externally to the application server process, allowing for scale and greatly decrease JVM heap sizes. Spring Data GemFire offers further development advantages by offering APIs that connect Spring apps to a near linearly-scalable data store that is also accessible by SQL and JDBC.

Now, we can translate these developer and architecture level improvements to things the CIO or CTO (and certainly the CFO) would probably like to hear. To summarize why vFabric is on the CIO agenda,” it is because of key trends and economics, broken down into these five, related reasons:

  1. Because every company is using software more and more to both drive down costs and grow revenue – this makes every company a software company and every CIO a key member of the executive team.
  2. Because business needs around mobile, social, big data, device, analytics, and cloud models are driving IT priorities, it means IT will likely prioritize some 1) modernization of existing Java apps and 2) new Java application development. As well, IT has to prioritize cost savings programs.
  3. Because vFabric tc Server can help consolidate physical machines to VMs and maximize JVM memory costs, vFabric can drive a considerable cost savings. 
  4. In addition, the Java application server licensing alone could be 50% to 85% less than our existing Java application servers.  As well, our licensing model is based on average use, not peak use.
  5. Because the virtualization, cloud capabilities, frameworks, and tools within VMware’s vFabric Suite can help our developers improve programming productivity, decrease project timelines and budgets, reduce project risk, and improve SLAs while reducing operations costs.

Al’s full article is CIO-oriented. It provides slides and links to the recorded presentation as well additional detail on the trends, economics, competitive statistics and comparisons for memory and disk usage on the Java app tier, and additional detail about tc Server’s licensing model built for the cloud.