One of the most strategic initiatives that Salesforce.com started in 2012 — with any eye towards achieving and maintaining control over the cloud in 2013 and beyond — is Salesforce Identity.
Looking to build a viable ecosystem in the cloud that will attract the support of both application software providers and IT organizations, Salesforce.com needed to find a way to make it simpler to manage access control for multiple users accessing an array of services delivered across Salesforce.com cloud computing platforms.
Salesforce Identity answers that challenge by providing a single sign-on capability that makes it easier to centrally administer cloud applications. Quinton Wall, director of developer evangelism for Salesforce.com, says Salesforce Identity is a critical element of Salesforce.com’s efforts to attract developers to its cloud platforms. Developers do not want to have to develop an identity management framework on their own; it’s easier to integrate their application with another application that makes theirs more valuable. If every application in the cloud is using a different set of sign-on technologies, managing credentials for users accessing multiple applications using a wide variety of devices becomes nearly impossible to manage.
In fact, Bluewolf CEO Eric Berridge says that one of the biggest issues in getting any enterprise to migrate applications to the cloud is providing an approach to identity management. As a provider of IT integration services for Salesforce.com applications, Berridge says BlueWolf customers are always looking for ways to manage identity in the cloud that are least roughly equivalent to what IT organizations rely on Microsoft Active Directory to provide on premise.
Ultimately, Salesforce.com is trying to provide a better management and user experience in the cloud than its rivals as part of an overall effort to forestall the commoditization of cloud computing services. Rather than competing on price with Amazon, Google and Microsoft, the goal is to create an ecosystem where IT organizations find a rich array of business applications that are easier to manage and provision. According to Wall, the key to that approach is democratizing cloud computing in a way that empowers end users, while still providing IT with the governance tools it needs to be successful.
Whether this strategy will ultimately carry the day for Salesforce.com remains to be seen. But at the very least, if it is executed with alacrity, it should allow Salesforce.com to gain enough altitude in the cloud to be a significant force for years to come.