Salesforce.com Shifts Development to the Cloud

 
 
By Michael Hickins  |  Posted 2008-01-16
 
 
 

Salesforce.com Shifts Development to the Cloud


SAN FRANCISCO-Salesforce.com is introducing DevForce, an on-demand platform that will support developers using its Apex programming language.

The idea of this "platform as a service" is to provide a comprehensive cloud computing architecture that will allow enterprise developers as well as developers for ISVs and SIs (systems integrators) to create applications without the need for software and hardware client/server architecture.

The cloud-based platform encompasses a set of features intended to help developers create business applications, including the ability to create database applications on demand, a workflow engine for managing collaboration between users, and a Web services API for programmatic access along with mashups and integration with other applications and data.

Adam Gross, senior vice president of developer marketing for Salesforce.com, explained that the cloud-based application environment is intended primarily to help ISVs and other partners create applications for the Salesforce.com ecosystem.

"It's intended to make the platform as a service more approachable," Gross told eWEEK.

The principal features of the platform include a metadata API that lets developers programmatically create and manage the code and metadata that those applications are built with; an IDE (integrated development environment) for managing development tasks; a sandbox for testing and training; and a code-share function allowing developers to collaborate more easily.

Click here to read more about Salesforce.com's plans to build up Force.com in 2008.

Gross added that the metadata API is the most significant addition to the Salesforce.com ecosystem since the introduction of the data API in 2003, which allowed Salesforce.com customers to produce Web services.

The metadata API "gives you access to the Apex code [the language used to develop applications on top of the AppExchange platform], it gives you access to the schema, so now you can move the metadata in and out of the system," he said.

Gross also told eWEEK that Salesforce.com is introducing utility computing capabilities for its customers. Rather than charging customers on a per-seat basis, as it does for its SAAS (software as a service) offerings, the company will allow customers to pay for certain applications on a per-log-in basis.

Typical Uses


Typical uses for this would be applications such as vacation request systems or asset tracking, which may be used intensively at certain times of the year and not at all for most of the time.

Customers building their own applications would pay $5 per log-in; if they used applications built by other Salesforce.com partners, additional charges would apply.

The benefit to customers is that the platform gives them the development environment to create applications that might not get otherwise built because they are too far down the priority list, and the utility pricing makes using those applications less expensive than under traditional software models.

Salesforce.com would also get the benefit of extending further into its customers' organizations. "We're addressing the entire enterprise rather than just a sales and marketing organization," Gross said.

Denis Pombriant, principal analyst with Beagle Research Group, said the on-demand development platform will allow in-house developers to create more value-added applications, rather than simply working to keep the servers running.

It will also allow IT decision makers to reach further down their to-do lists because the platform provides resources in terms of time and money that they wouldn't otherwise have.

The platform means "you can have this development stack available to your developers," Pombriant said. "It's easy to develop this way."

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