This post is a brief summary of the keynote from Tour de Force introducing Salesforce.com’s strategy.
In general, it seems to me like there is movement in the industry toward providing a number of things as services at all levels of the software application stack ranging from applications that you can "buy" on a scalable, subscription model (e.g., Basecamp) to infrastructure (e.g., Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud for hosting and S3 storage service).
Force.com is Salesforce’s move to provide a set of core tools (IDE, database, workflow rules, version control integration, and dev/qa/deploy environments) that are intended to speed up development.
Read on for more.
Platform As a Service – Trying to move the industry from client-server computing to Software as a Service – using the Internet cloud. Using the same technology used on the consumer-side for business applications. – SaaS model – multi-tenant (scalable, automatic upgrades), subscription-based service (not licensed).
Vision: "Multi-Application, Multi-Category" SaaS company. Use the platform-as-a-service stack (infrastructure, database, integration, logic, user interface, and AppExchange), and deliver a set of applications (Sales, Marketing, Service, Partners, Mobile, Content, Ideas).
Some Stats – 24 major releases in 8 years. Releasing approximately 3 times a year. – 38,000 customers, and more than 1 MM subscribers. AppExchange has more than 750 custom apps available. (And there have been more than 61,000 total custom apps built on platform).
Explaining their "Stack"
- Infrastructure-as-a-service: selling point is similar to what Amazon is doing with EC2
- Database as a service: meta-data model for defining the database
- Integrations – desktop connectors, mash-ups, middleware connectors, native ERP to Oracle, SAP.
- Workflow – User Interface – create any user interface, not limited to the Salesforce interface.
Apex, which is the ability to code directly to their platform, is now available for Enterprise Edition (previously only available in Unlimited Edition).
- Dolby – Cinema Management application – for Dolby to keep track of movie houses using their technology, support requests, etc. Quite nice, bulk of it claimed to be built in less than a week!
- Riskonnect – Application with fancy Flash UI that uses core Salesforce objects.
Pricing for Force.com Per-login: $5/login. ($0.99 for 2008) Unlimited Logins: $50/user/month
Development as a Service: 4 Technologies
- metadata API – ability to programmatically modify the data schemas, apex code, visualforce code – can extract from cloud, manipulate, share it, and push it back into the cloud.
- Expose the "Setup" typically done through Web wizard via an XML document.
- Force.com IDE – rich code editor, XML application view. Based on Eclipse.
- Force.com Sandbox – environments available for development, QA, training and production – on-demand environments. "Push a button" and get a new environment that is identical to your production environment.
- Force.com Code Share – move from multiple sandbox environments, with source control (SVN), push to production