Salesforce bolsters cloud services with platform moves

December 9th, 2010 | by Aaron Tan is bolstering its cloud services with a slew of new offerings to help enterprises ease the transition to the cloud.

Through a planned US$212 million acquisition of Heroku, Salesforce hopes to attract companies that are building cloud applications with the open-source Ruby on Rails Web development framework.

Heroku, a Ruby cloud application platform, was created in 2007 by developers with the aim of making deployment and management of cloud apps as easy as developing them.

The application platform features a workflow and interface designed to mirror how developers work. Because the platform is a service, there are no virtual machines, software and hardware to manage. Developers can focus on writing their code, and Heroku takes care of software deployment and quality of service.

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff said the Heroku acquisition was driven by calls for the company to embrace open development platforms such as Ruby on Rails and Java. Salesforce’s Apex programming language, which employs syntax that is similar to Java, has been criticized for being too proprietary.

Earlier this year, Salesforce and VMware announced the VMforce service that allows enterprises to develop and run Java applications on the Salesforce cloud. With VMforce, developers can develop native Java apps using Java development frameworks such as Eclipse and host them on

VMforce, along with the pending acquisition of Heroku, underscores Salesforce’s ambitions to build an entire enterprise software stack on the cloud, challenging traditional enterprise software incumbents Oracle and SAP.

To cement its position as an enterprise cloud vendor with a full spectrum of business software — from hosted applications and development platforms to IT service management — Salesforce also announced RemedyForce, a new cloud service delivered in partnership with BMC Software.

RemedyForce includes components from BMC’s family of IT service management software such as IT service desk, a configuration management database and asset management, among others. With RemedyForce, both companies are targeting organizations that are unable to afford expensive IT service management software.

Rounding up the day’s announcements is ISVforce, a new cloud service to help independent software vendors (ISVs) build and deploy cloud applications hosted on Salesforce with an arsenal of tools such as application provisioning. It also helps ISVs monitor app usage and adoption on the AppExchange marketplace.

While Salesforce may now have the key pieces in place, it needs to offer a wider spectrum of software such as application lifecycle management and IT governance to compete on a deeper level with heavyweight rivals that sell on-premise software.

George Hu, Salesforce’s executive vice president for platforms and marketing, acknowledged this gap and reassured customers that the company will be working towards a complete offering in time to come.


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