Nucleus Research, an independent analyst firm, has conducted a study that showed developers using Salesforce.com's cloud-based Force.com development platform can build applications up to five times faster than with Java or .NET.
The study compared application development in the cloud with traditional on-premises application development. The results of the research, an in-depth analysis of 17 companies that had developed in both environments, found savings in time to development and ongoing support costs with Force.com. Specifically, the research showed that developers found they could deliver applications 4.9 times faster on Force.com than on Java or .NET, Nucleus officials said.
"Our in-depth analysis shows that cloud computing is dramatically changing the cost and time equation for custom application development," said Rebecca Wettemann, vice president, research, Nucleus Research. "Given the rapid time to value, lower cost, and greater ongoing flexibility, Force.com is likely to grow in popularity as an option for custom application development."
Ariel Kelman, senior director of platform product marketing at Salesforce.com, said, "We're pretty excited by the success our customers have had. There is a quantifiable advantage of developing on the cloud and Force.com. You can deliver applications five times faster and for half the cost."
One of the reasons for that is that Force.com enables developers to bypass all the cost and complexity of setting up infrastructure-both hardware and software, Kelman said. "The cloud model, where there is no capital investment, enables you to get things started faster," he said. And Force.com is focused on the development of a specific type of application-specifically enterprise applications, he said.
Moreover, Salesforce.com has created pre-built components for developers to use, such as multi-currency components. "So when you build on Force.com, it's about 80 percent clicks and 20 percent code," Kelman said. "And the code they're writing is their unique IP [intellectual property]."
"Companies are accelerating their adoption of the cloud for application development," said Marc Benioff, CEO and chairman of Salesforce.com, in a statement. "The benefits of the Force.com platform for enterprise cloud computing are immediate ...."
"We used the Force.com platform and our expertise from publishing more than 120,000 book titles to develop a system that is transforming our business," said James Stanley, CIO of Author Solutions. "Our Force.com projects came in under budget and ahead of schedule."
Meanwhile, the Nucleus report cited a number of reasons why Force.com was faster than traditional environments, including:
"??Ã Custom objects that can be quickly built and reused across projects??Ã Administrator tools and user interface capabilities, which can be quickly configured rather than requiring developers to build and test interfaces and tools from scratch??Ã Workflow engine: The rules, forms and processes of Force.com's workflow engine can be quickly configured to support custom workflows??Ã Pre-tested: Force.com provides a pre-built and tested production environment, including database, database connectivity, application server, security protocols, and other application infrastructure items, such as load balancing, so developers have to make fewer technology strategy decisions and spend less time on testing before moving to production."
Doug Menefee, CIO of the Schumacher Group, told eWEEK that Force.com helped save his organization both time and money on application development. The Schumacher Group is a physician-owned company focused on staffing emergency physicians at hospitals across the United States. The company has about 350 physicians and employs more than 700 other staff to help run the operation. Menefee said the Schumacher recruiting system and operations database runs on Salesforce.com and the company uses some other Salesforce.com technology. He said Schumacher has been a Salesforce.com customer for four years.
"When we utilize projects in Salesforce.com with our Web services team, we can do that two to three times faster than our on-premises solution," Menefee said. And the company can do its job with half the developers, he said. Menefee said for certain .NET on-premises applications he needs teams of 12 to 14 developers onboard to do work that comparable teams of six to eight developers in the Force.com environment can accomplish.
"It has a lot to do with the architecture and the organizational structure of the applications," Menefee said. "Their Web services are solid. And being able to work with the cloud, you don't have to tinker with server configurations and things like that."
He added that by the end of 2009, Schumacher will run 70 percent of its IT environment in the cloud. "The cloud-based systems "outperform our on-premises solutions," Menefee said.
Another reason that the cloud environment is so attractive to Schumacher? The company's headquarters is in Lafayette, La. "Business continuity is a big deal for us, as we live 40 miles from the Gulf of Mexico and each hurricane season we have to lock down." The Salesforce.com cloud environment minimizes Schumacher's exposure in that regard.