Dreamforce: Cloud Development Platforms Get Social, Mobile Injections

Salesforce.com at Dreamforce 2011 gave its major cloud platforms a social boost Thursday, adding a host of new capabilities to Force.com, Database.com and Heroku to give developers foothold into the social enterprise through mobile, cloud and social development.

"This social revolution is going to require a new platform," Salesforce Chairman and CEO Marc Benioff said during his Dreamforce 2011 second day keynote. Benioff said the success of Facebook isn't just in status updates, it's in the platform, it's in the applications on top of Facebook. Same goes for tablets and smartphones, which have become havens for applications and app developers.

Salesforce said that developers have already built more than 400,000 next-generation applications using the company's trio of development platforms. Force.com has also been used to build and deploy more than 240,000 custom applications and delivers more than 500 million transactions each day.

Benioff said a next-generation platform is a new requirement for developers to create social, mobile, real-time and open apps that can be written once and deployed anywhere.

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"We've got to let go of the old way. We've got to let go of the old databases. We've got to let go of the old application servers," Benioff said.

And Salesforce is now calling Salesforce's three platforms the Social Enterprise Platform which targets the three key components of the social enterprise: developing social customer profiles, creating employee social networks and building customer social networks and product social networks. According to Salesforce, the Social Enterprise Platform offers a real-time multitenant application development environment that enables the creation of cloud, mobile and social apps.

The platform updates come at a time when Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) is expected to be a new cloud battleground and Forrester Research estimates the PaaS market will near $12 billion come 2020.

First, targeting the development of social customer profiles, Salesforce's Database.com, Salesforce's on-demand cloud database for developers, is now generally available to developers and ISVs. Database.com enables secure sharing and social APIs. Database.com is also open, letting developers pick their language, whether Java, C#, Ruby or PHP; platform like Force.com, Heroku or Amazon EC2; and the device, whether written to Google Android, Apple iOS or others.

According to George Hu, Salesforce executive vice president of platforms, marketing and operations, Database.com gained traction immediately upon being launched into general availability.

"In just the first 12 hours since Database.com has been generally available, we had 1,000 databases provisioned," Hu said.

Hu said Database.com is free for up to 100,000 records, 50,000 transactions per month and support for up to three enterprise users. After that, Database.com costs $10 per additionally 100,000 records per month; $10 per 150,000 transactions; $10 per enterprise user; and $10 per 100 light users.

Next: Salesforce Updates Force.com; Heroku For The Enterprise

Salesforce also launched major social and mobile updates to Force.com, which handles the component of the social enterprise that focuses on creating employee social networks. Among them is the general availability of Siteforce, a Web content management system for managing company marketing Web sites. Web developers can use Siteforce as a drag-and-drop development studio to build "pixel-perfect" Web sites, and business users can edit content.

Salesforce also launched the new Visual Workflow Cloud Designer on Force.com, which lets users model and deploy logic-based business processes in the cloud. Users can collaborate on business workflows using a drag-and-drop designer to automate workflows. Visual Workflow Cloud Designer will also let partners and ISVs create new capabilities and to integrate with third-party applications.

Additional new Force.com function includes Salesforce's new version designed for touch-screen devices, touch.salesforce.com, which will give developers the ability to build new mobile apps for smartphones and tablets using HTML5, and all native apps built on Force.com will be mobile. Salesforce also added Chatter Connect, which lets developers use a REST API to integrate Chatter into customer and third party applications including intranets and portals, custom mobile apps and enterprise apps. Chatter feeds can also now be embedded into Microsoft SharePoint MySite or TeamSite and share documents from SharePoint to Chatter using Chatter for SharePoint.

Lastly, Salesforce targeted developers building customer and product social networks with updates to Heroku. Salesforce launched Heroku for the enterprise, an enterprise version of Heroku, a Ruby-based platform that Salesforce acquired last year. Heroku for the enterprise is available through Salesforce channels with pricing packages that start from $4,000 per month, Salesforce said. Enterprises will receive 24x7 support, application monitoring and continuous deployment.

Accenture Group Chief Executive of Technology Kevin Campbell said Accenture is using Heroku to develop customer applications as part of its social enterprise push.

"The things we're talking about will have a profound impact on the enterprise and what gets done and what gets delivered," he said, adding that Accenture is launching an Enterprise Social Media Innovation Center to turn people on to social applications and social media.

Along with enterprise packages for Heroku, Salesforce this week also launched Java support on Heroku, making Heroku available to the one of the most widely used developer languages. To illustrate how Heroku works, Salesforce showed how Warner Bros. used Heroku to developer a streaming movie application on Facebook, through which consumers can buy movies and watch movies on the social networking site.

"This is how developers are building customer facing apps, and they're doing it on Heroku," said Salesforce CMO Kraig Swensrud.