Dreamforce: Salesforce's ISV Strategy Gets Aggressive

Much of Salesforce.com's focus at Dreamforce 2011 was around its cloud developer platforms and how ISVs can leverage it to boost business and functionality.

And Thursday, Salesforce CEO and Chairman Marc Benioff said Salesforce's ISV push will increase this year as the platform becomes a more important component of the Salesforce's push toward the social enterprise, a business model that leverages social, mobile and cloud technologies to create a more agile and connected business.

"We're on-boarding a lot more ISVs," Benioff said during a roundtable Q&A session. "We have a huge ISV program underway."

This week at Dreamforce, Salesforce revealed a number of high-profile ISV partnerships, and according to Benioff that momentum will continue as Salesforce's ISV program continues to grow. Salesforce has said that ISV orders are up 210 percent year-over-year, ISV revenue is up 90 percent year-over-year, and the company has seen a 25 percent year-over-year jump in ISV partner growth.

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One of the drivers for ISVs is access to Salesforce's more than 100,000 customers. Another is the increased depth of Salesforce's three cloud development platforms: Database.com, Heroku and Force.com.

"They want to be on this train. And we want them to be on the train. It's a win-win for both of us to have them on board," Benioff said. "They're building these really great Force.com apps."

Benioff said a lot of ISVs initially didn't build their apps with enough flexibility, but Salesforce building its application as a platform enables for easy customization. By putting Force.com on top of their services ISVs can gain flexibility for new capabilities and processes.

And Salesforce's approach changes the old model where applications and platforms were separate entities.

"That idea is antiquated. I think that this is how you and I were trained to think: Application companies; platform companies; application strategies; platform strategies," Benioff said. "There is no separation between our applications and our platform. That's not how our customers think about it … The reality is these are not separable parts. It's not like we have a disk with an application on it and a disk with a database on it and a disk with an application server on it. It's all one system. It's a service and it's an integrated system."

Benioff said that tight coupling of the apps and the platform is the differentiator and the accelerator for Salesforce's ISV partners. "I don't think we can think about application and platform companies any longer. We have to think about this integrated service," he said.

Benioff added: "We really have evolved our ISV story because the platform has become a lot more robust."

Next: Salesforce ISV Push Brings Together Ex-Oracle Execs

Benioff said the launch of Force.com and the platform's robustness attracted ISVs for the first time and the momentum has carried.

"We have made a huge investment in the platform over the last 24 months," he said. "And over the next 24 months we'll make another huge investment in platforms. As the platform gets more and more robust, you can see major ISVs building major software products on the platform natively, 100 percent native, and being very successful."

Ron Huddleston, vice president of ISVs and channel partners for Salesforce said that ISVs "complete the social enterprise picture," Salesforce's massive social, cloud and mobile push, by building apps that enable these transformative business environments.

"Salesforce and our platform let you build apps that work the way people expect apps to work," Huddleston said during Salesforce's partner keynote at Dreamforce.

Benioff used Salesforce's and BMC Software's RemedyForce IT service management platform as an example of how ISV's can find success on the Force.com platform.

"As the platform now really gets to another level we will attract more and more ISVs."

Salesforce has more than 100,000 core customers who are now accessible with one-click installation off AppExchange, which also creates a powerful proposition for ISVs.

The ISV push was evident Thursday with Salesforce adding integrations with major players like Concur, Workday and Infor. And a new company called Kenandy, which offers a social manufacturing management solution for the cloud.

And in an interesting twist, Salesforce's recent ISV growth has brought Benioff back together with a pair of former high-ranking Oracle executives who have put their weight behind growing ISVs. Former Oracle President Charles Phillips is CEO of Infor, which announced a massive partnership with Salesforce to create InForce applications. And ISV startup Kenandy, which was founded by CEO Sandy Kurtzig, features former Oracle President Ray Lane as a member of its board. Lane is currently HP non-executive board chairman and Managing Partner of Kleiner Perkins.

"I wish oracle had more former presidents, we'd be able to get more of them on board," Benioff joked.