When VMware cosied up to Salesforce a few weeks ago, I noticed that the tie-up didn't seem to offer anything that Google App Engine didn't - with the difference that Google offered support for several languages, not just the Java that VMware/Springsource were offering.

But with VMware and Google both being very aggressive when it comes to maintaining, strengthening and building on their market positions - and with a common foe in Microsoft - there was little surprise when the two companies announced their partnership. It's also the case, as VMware CTO Steve Herrod points out, that the two companies share a common heritage - both emerging from Stanford University at the same time.

It's little wonder then, that there's plenty of common interest and the two companies are all set to build on this. Announcing the arrangement, VMware CEO Paul Maritzsaid “VMware and Google are aligning to reassure our mutual customers and the Java community that choice and portability are of utmost importance to both companies. We will work to ensure that modern applications can run smoothly within the firewalls of a company’s datacentre or out in the public cloud environment.” - a statement of intent.

It's a smart move by both companies: VMware now can offer developers a choice of cloud platforms to work with, wrapping up the private datacentre and the public cloud, and, as Herrod points out, also offering a choice of VMware and non-VMware platforms, developers will be able to check on usability of software in differing environments.On top of that, the Google/VMware tie-up will mean that applications will able to be accessed from several different devices, something that is particularly essential in the modern business environments, where the reliance on the desktop computer within a single workspace is disappearing.

The worlds of cloud computing and virtualisation have often been seen as interchangeable - but Google is a company that has made several forays into the cloud arena with no virtualisation element ... until now. The arrangement with VMware has provided that touch, while VMware, for its part, has now got a route to the developers who prefer the more open touch of Google.

VMware, first with Salesforce, and now with Google, has made serious efforts into the cloud field and presents a formidable obstacle to the likes of Microsoft and Azure - the cloud arena has certainly got a whole lot more interesting.

Follow Maxwell on Twitter on @maxcooter