On-demand CRM vendor Salesforce.com announced a partnership with Google to allow its Force.com platform as a service to the Google App Engine application, Google's own cloud-based application development platform. The partnership gives Salesforce developers native access to Google's distributed storage system, Bigtable and allows Google App Engine developers access to the Salesforce platform.
The partnership allows Salesforce.com developers to talk to applications built using the programming language Python. Google and Salesforce teamed up in June of this year, when the companies announced the release of the Force.com Tool for Google APIs, which allowed developers using the Force.com platform to access the data in Google Apps.
"We think that in economic times like these, the advantages of the cloud computing option make more sense," says Salesforce senior director of platform product marketing, Ariel Kelman. "You get fast results, no capital expenditure and low risk. Kelman says these advantages particularly benefit small and medium-size businesses (SMBs).
"When we talk to our customers in the SMB space, these companies are really looking to leverage the technology investment in these scalable platforms," he says. "The ability for them to take their ideas and run them on a world-wide, secure infrastructure is a huge win," Kelman says.
The announcement is a signal of the growing acceptance of cloud computing, which allows users to access technology-enabled services from the Internet ("the cloud") without requiring knowledge of the infrastructure that supports them. Research company IDC says this type of software as a service (SAAS) is increasingly likely to appeal to SMBs.
IDC calls SAAS "the most mature and widely deployed form of IT cloud services." In contrast to the more nascent cloud infrastructure offerings, IDC finds business applications have consistently been the largest portion of the SAAS market.
In addition, IDC reports the opportunity to open up under-served SMB segments, in both developed and emerging markets, is the primary motivation that drives many IT suppliers toward the cloud model. Conversely, SMBs' IT investments are driven by applications to a degree much higher than with enterprise investments.
In November, Salesforce.com announced connection packages of Force.com Amazon Web Services and social networking Web site Facebook at its annual user conference, Dreamforce 2008, held in San Francisco-another signal that Saleforce was serious about cloud computing and its ties to the consumer Web. "At the highest level, [Salesforce and Google] both believe the Internet is at the heart of computing," Kelman says.
Cloud computing partnerships allow developers greater access to data and applications, Kelman says, so the more Salesforce can do as a vendor to make their services interoperable, the faster SMBs can turn ideas into applications. "For our customers, they really want to be able to use the best of the consumer Web, but in a way that's safe and fast and secure," he says. "And that's why we're working so closely with the leaders in the consumer Web, like Google, Facebook and Amazon."