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Summary:

Salesforce.com is trying to entice developers working inside the enterprise to its platform-as-a-service product by offering them a free first taste of Force.com. The platform is built on Salesforce.com’s own infrastructure that it cobbled together to deliver its CRM software as a service. It looks like […]

sfdc_tag_rgbSalesforce.com is trying to entice developers working inside the enterprise to its platform-as-a-service product by offering them a free first taste of Force.com. The platform is built on Salesforce.com’s own infrastructure that it cobbled together to deliver its CRM software as a service. It looks like Salesforce.com’s  goal with Force.com is to create an enterprise platform-as-a-service offering that rivals Google’s  App Engine, or eventually Microsoft’s Azure. The battle that was fought last year over infrastructure as a service, where Rackspace, Amazon and GoGrid were fighting to provide bare-bones cloud computing, is now moving up the stack as cloud vendors realize that plenty of IT departments are thinking about using some form of cloud computing, but may not want to trouble with thinking about the hardware layer.

The company today announced a free edition of Force.com so developers can build one app for up to 100 people, that uses up to 10 custom objects (custom database tables) per user and a web site that gets fewer than 250,000 page views per month. That last bit brings us to today’s second announcement: Force.com Sites.

The offering looks like an amped-up GeoCities for enterprises that allows corporate IT departments to build an internal or public-facing web site, while still tying it into permissions and data available to Force.com. There are three pricing levels, from free (which lets a site owner have up to 250,000 page views) to unlimited (which, despite the name, is limited to 1 million monthly page views.) Additional monthly page views are available for $1,000 per month for up to 1 million more monthly page views.

Given that each different platform as a service is built to optimize the host’s underlying hardware and architecture, several of them will likely proliferate in the spirit of co-opetition. Google, for example, emphasizes that App Engine is designed for apps that need to scale, while Salesforce.com emphasizes its familiarity with the enterprise and permissions around accessing data. Microsoft has said it plans to integrate Azure deeply into its suite of products, which will help developers customize their Microsoft apps. Expect to see more news about these efforts and more agreements to make sure data and permissions can be shared between them in the coming months.

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  1. Salesforce’s chances of winning over devers in mass are slim to none.

    When presented with choice the average developer is always going to choose openess and flexibility over a proprietary platform and language. I dont see a lot of developers being eager to run out and learn the Apex scripting language so they can build some cool force.com apps.

    There will be those few all SFDC shops that jump on this bandwagon, but those will be few and far between. Amazon, Google and Microsoft will be having much greater traction as “cloud adoption” begins to really hockey stick.

  2. If it’s so great, why do they have to give it away?

  3. Stacey,

    Just want to remind you that Rackspace Cloud Sites is absolutely a platform offer (cloud files and cloud servers are infrastructure). It also has 130,000 apps vs. Appengine’s reported 80,000. I think salesforce reports about 100,000.

    I think the key issue to examine on these platforms is the application framework being supported and how it is implemented. What can you actually do? How much do you have to adjust to the platform vs. use standard code?

    lew

  4. I’m guessing that this offer of a free “starter” Force.com account isn’t targeted at traditional IT organization leaders, or the usual mainstream enterprise developer community.

    Instead, it’s a bypass play — intended to attract business decision makers that are frustrated with their own internal organizations lack of agility — i.e. being consistently unable to meet the new application needs of business users.

    This is deja vu — when Salesforce.com first entered the CRM arena there were lots of people that said most CIOs at large companies would never adopt this out-tasked IT model — and they were right. That’s exactly why Salesforce.com was pitched to all those eager VPs of Sales who were willing to try a few user accounts, and then build a business case to pitch their CEO.

    The big enterprise software vendors lost a huge chunk of the sales force automation market because they ignored the pent-up demand that already existed for this out-task model. It’s like that saying, denial isn’t just a river that runs through Egypt.

  5. BotchagalupeMarks for June 16th – 12:46 | IT Management and Cloud Blog Tuesday, June 16, 2009

    [...] Like Google, Salesforce Is Pushing Its Platform for the Enterprise – Looks like a three way battle for the enterprise PaaS (GAE, Azure, and Force) [...]

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