I am not sure how other people have learned their craft and mastered the technology they support, but for me, the learning started after the books ended. I have learned so much more from breaking something and having to find the fix than I ever did from reading a book. Back in the day around 2005, VMware released The VMTN Subscription. This was an amazing program that was something like the Microsoft MSDN subscription. These programs gave you the ability to run any of the core software packages for a year at a time for a subscription fee.
It is interesting to see Edward’s comment that according to EMC/VMware, widespread production deployment of Cloud Apps is 3-5 years off. If that is the case the VMware CloudFoundry initiative should be focused on cutting-edge development rather than porting existing apps, and in much the same way that Microsoft has always courted developers, CloudFoundry should be the latest cool thing for developer productivity. It’s interesting to talk about this stuff in the abstract, and at the strategic level, but sometimes it’s worth understanding what happens when you need to make the decisions for yourself.