Salesforce.com: A Million Cloud Apps and Counting

Michael Vizard
Slide Show

How Salesforce.com Masters the Cloud

Companies continue to find successful methods for integrating with the Force.com platform.

The battle for control of the cloud is ultimately going to be determined by the platform that wins the hearts and minds of the most application developers.

With that goal in mind, Salesforce.com is already playing host to over 1 million cloud applications that are running on its Force.com and Database.com platforms, or on the cloud computing platform managed by its Heroku subsidiary, says Byron Sebastian, CEO of Heroku.

Each of those platforms, adds Sebastian, is targeted at a specific type of application. Force.com is aimed at developers who are creating data-centric applications that are similar in nature to the customer relationship management (CRM) application that Salesforce.com markets, while the Heroku platform is designed to run custom applications that are rewritten in multiple languages. Database.com, meanwhile, gives developers who need a relational database access to a cloud service. Sebastian says Salesforce.com sees Database.com as the platform that unifies the Force.com and Heroku platforms under a common set of federated cloud services.

But the thing that will ultimately differentiate the cloud offerings from Salesforce.com, says Sebastian, is the level of automation that the company is bringing to bear on the cloud. The goal, says Sebastian, is to abstract operations to a level where the actual servers in the cloud are invisible to the developer. The reason that the Salesforce.com cloud platforms have over a million applications running on them, says Sebastian, is because Salesforce.com allows them to concentrate on building the application rather than worrying about managing the servers the application runs on. That's especially critical in an era of agile development that requires developers to not only quickly create code, but also continuously update those applications.

That approach, adds Sebastian, is what is attracting a raft of next-generation mobile, social media and event-driven applications to the Salesforce.com platforms. And it's those classes of applications that will dominate the cloud computing landscape for years to come.

Cloud computing, he says, is really about enabling the development of new classes of applications that previously were difficult to build, deploy and manage. As such, the platform that best enables that to happen without any language limitations is ultimately going to win the day.

As cloud computing ecosystems continue to evolve, it's becoming pretty clear that the platform that gains the most developer support is going to gain critical mass in the cloud. And once gained, the providers of those services are going to be indispensable in a way that will be largely invisible to the average end user.

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