Salesforce1 is being called a lot of things and almost all of them by Salesforce.com executives. It’s a mobile first platform, an integration platform, a CRM platform, the beginning of the Internet of Customers and a platform that will “jumpstart innovation.”
But some researchers are raising some serious questions about whether it’s really much of anything beyond new RESTful APIs.
I’ve been scouring the Internet for any insight on this issue since I saw last week’s InfoWorld headline, “Salesforce.com launches Salesforce1 integration platform.”
Reading through the article, I couldn’t actually figure out what made it an integration platform—other than the fact that it offered new APIs. But even that seemed sketchy:
Salesforce1 is made possible through a new set of APIs and mobile-app creation tools, including AppExchange, an app store for Salesforce1-connected apps, where third-party software vendors can sell their creations. However, details about the API set are vague. The company claims existing apps can be made ‘mobile, social, and future-proof’ this way, including all existing Visualforce pages and custom actions.
Certainly, you can use APIs for some level of integration. However, this isn’t about integration in the way the cloud needs it to be about integration. This is more about Salesforce’s internal integration, according to Forrester:
The new APIs opened the door for much better integration between Heroku and Salesforce.com’s Web properties. Heroku is the company’s environment for Ruby, Java, and other developers who don’t or won’t work in Force.com. Now both development environments are integrated with Salesforce.com’s applications and underlying application services.
In other words, Salesforce1 is not so much an integration platform, as it is an integration between Salesforce’s own services.
“Salesforce1 is a big set of developments, and addresses one of our biggest criticisms of the company’s cloud platforms: that Force.com, Heroku, Chatter, and other services aren’t well integrated,” writes Forrester analyst John R. Rymer. “Well, now they are.”
Information Week called it “a unifying, mobile-friendly API-rich wrapper around everything Salesforce.com offers.” That sounds pretty, but again, it points to this announcement being all about integration among Salesforce offerings—and not an actual integration platform.
Gartner analyst Robert DeSisto was even less generous.
“There’s no ‘it,’” DeSisto told the UK site Computing. “They’ve increased the plumbing between the multiple ‘its.’ They run on separate things, on separate platforms. … Now what do you really get? Increased APIs, better web services and extensions to [component-based UI framework] Visualforce for modeling Web applications.”
So, really, Salesforce1 is APIs, which isn’t exactly the same thing as being an integration platform. Instead, let’s do what Information Week did and call it “a start” on integration:
Salesforce did announce Heroku1 this week. But the code libraries and Heroku Connect tool supplied to sync data from Salesforce applications is just a start on bringing these two worlds together. Co-founder and development leader Parker Harris acknowledged that ‘you can’t bring everything together just at the UI layer.’ Things have to happen at lower levels of the services, he said, …