San Francisco-Salesforce.com, at its Jan. 17 Tour de Force event at its hometown headquarters, announced new features to its Force.com developers toolkit and a new pricing model, all designed to increase adoption of the company's Platform-as-a-Service play called Force.com
The company, which has confusing nomenclature to begin with, announced its Force.com Cloud Computing Architecture, which includes a $5 pay-per-login pricing model (priced at 99 cents per log-in as a promotion through the end of 2008), along with its Force.com Development-as-a-Service offering that brings a new set of tools and services to help developers more easily develop applications using Force.com.
Sound confusing? It is. Here's the breakdown:
- Force.com is Salesforce.com's Platform-as-a-Service (PAAP) offering that includes the company's Apex programming language and former Apex platform (now Force.com), which itself includes a bunch of developer tools.
- The Cloud Computing Architecture (CCA one would assume) is the euphemism for PAAP and includes the new pricing structure, which is meant for Force.com users and not Salesforce.com's traditional CRM [customer relationship management] users-the real bread and butter for the company.
"Cloud computing, or Platform-as-a-Service, has enormous potential for the enterprise," said Salesforce.com Chairman and CEO Marc Benioff in a statement. "Cloud computing offers almost unlimited computing power and collaboration at a massive scale. With Force.com Platform-as-Service, we are providing the necessary building blocks to make cloud computing real for the enterprise."
Despite Salesforce.com's plethora of nom de plumes which build on the original SAAS (Software-as-a-Service) term, Development-as-a-Service, or DAAS, seems to be the real heart of Thursday's announcements. It adds new tools to Salesforce.com's development platform, including the new Force.com Metadata API, Integrated Development Environment and Code Share. The Force.com Sandbox is also part of the offering, but that feature was announced previously.
To read more about development in the cloud, click here.
The Force.com Metadata API-similar to the existing Force.com API-helps developers to access and integrate the data in their Force.com applications. The Metadata API however lets developers create and manage the code and metadata that the applications are built with by providing access to Salesforce.com's database schema, Apex code and Visualforce user interfaces that comprise Force.com, according to the company.
The Force.com IDE is built on Eclipse and provides a means to manage standard development tasks like project views, HTML composition and rich code editing with error tracking, according to Salesforce.com. The Force.com Sandbox provides a separate environment for application development, testing and training. With the Force.com Code Share tool, developers are able to collaborate on the development, testing and deployment of their on demand applications. The Code Share tool lets developers store the definitions of their applications in source control and deploy them in either the Force.com Sandbox or production environments. Developers can also connect to open-source communities-including project hosting on Google Code-to collaborate in building applications using the Force.com platform.
While Salesforce.com is the first company to offer an on-demand development platform that allows developers to build multi-tenant applications using Salesforece.com's infrastructure as a service, the company faces mounting competition from stalwarts in the software industry. Microsoft, SAP and Oracle are each making waves in the on-demand CRM sector that includes underlying development platforms. Salesforce.com, however, has first-mover-and industry darling-advantage.
"They are heading in the right direction," said Ovum analyst David Bradshaw, in a Jan. 4 interview with eWeek. "The point of being a platform is not just the platform itself; it's a healthy ecosystem playing in [the company's] direction. Right now Salesforce.com is the place to look for an ecosystem."
The Force.com Metadata API, IDE and Code Share are available now.