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Salesforce and Google App Engine

With several connections between the two companies’ services already announced, Salesforce (NYSE: CRM).com and Google (NSDQ: GOOG) have decided to take their relationship to the next level. The two said Monday that they’ll be connecting Google App Engine with Salesforce’s Force.com Web application platform.
Salesforce Google App Engine

Google App Engine apps will now be able to connect to Salesforce data, while Salesforce users will get the ability to develop Web apps in Python and take advantage of Google’s authentication services. For example, cloud application development and integration startup Appirio worked with Harrah’s to create a proof-of-concept Web app mashing together a slot machine game that uses Google App Engine with a site for VIP guests that’s hosted by Force.com sites.

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E.M. “Max” Maximilien, of IBM (NYSE: IBM) Research, describes Swashup, a tool to help developers quickly build mashups with Ruby on Rails and deploy them to cloud services like Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) Web Services. The new app simply combines the two applications, and imagines that the new slot machine app could be used as a chance for VIP guests to potentially win awards like free Elton John tickets. Since the system is connected to Salesforce CRM, guests could be able to pick those prizes up as soon as they arrive at the hotel and Harrah’s could track how well guests respond to the games.
Superficially, Force.com and Google App Engine may seem to be competitors, but Google App Engine has focused more on consumer and traditional Web applications, while Force.com has primarily focused on Salesforce CRM-attached business apps. “This partnership brings the best of both worlds together,” Salesforce VP of platform marketing Adam Gross said in an interview.

In a blog post, Google also suggested a few example applications that could take advantage of Google App Engine and Salesforce: a large-scale consumer Web application that offers personalized experiences for customers, and an online marketing app that “generates leads directly.”

The new deal ramps up an already broad partnership between Google and Salesforce. Starting in 2003, the two companies started working together on philanthropic efforts. Three years later, the two companies announced the integration of Google AdWords and Salesforce CRM; more than 10,000 customers use Salesforce for Google App Engine today. A flood of work since then has led to Salesforce for Google Apps, Force.com for Google Data APIs, and open social network initiative OpenSocial. Five of the top 10 most popular apps on Salesforce’s AppExchange Web app directory are related to Google in some way.

Salesforce has recently expanded its partnership base far beyond Google. Last month at the company’s Dreamforce conference, Salesforce announced partnerships with Facebook and Amazon. Force.com applications can now be built with Amazon S3 for permanent storage capabilities, while the Salesforce-Facebook connection has driven Appirio to build an app to facilitate employee job referrals by matching its employees’ Facebook friends with job openings at Appirio.

Gross said customers should expect more partnerships going forward. “There are going to be multiple clouds and they need to be easily and well connected,” he said. “A lot about what we’re learning about collectively are what are the features we need to build into our platforms to work together better.” He said that even traditional software vendors — whom Salesforce has consistently detracted — look to be potential partners going forward as they invest more and more in the cloud.

Salesforce.com Further Integrates with Google Apps

Salesforce.com has added a toolkit to its Force.com platform today that allows its partners and developers to access Google’s Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). The toolkit, which lets programmers connect their applications or data into Google Apps and other Google services, strengthens the already tight relationship between the two vendors and fuels speculation that Google could acquire Salesforce.com in the future, analysts say.

Force.com is Salesforce.com’s platform that allows third-party developers, either from other software vendors or enterprises, to build software as a service (SaaS) applications. Those applications are made available on the company’s AppExchange.

“Google and salesforce.com share a common vision for making the cloud accessible to all developers,” Vic Gundotra, vice president of engineering at Google, said in a statement. “Our work with Salesforce.com will help make cloud computing increasingly accessible and powerful for developers, resulting in better Web applications and experiences.”

The companies offered an example of how the new API toolkit could be utilized. One company, CODA, a European software vendor that makes financial applications, built a web application that takes data from Google Spreadsheets (a component of Google Apps) and feeds it into an application it built on the Force.com platform.

The news today builds on the partnership between Google and Salesforce.com announced back in April. At the time, Salesforce.com announced that it would offer Google Apps for free to any customer who wanted them as part of their customer relationship management (CRM) software (Salesforce.com’s core product). Google Apps is a suite of Web-based applications that includes Gmail, Calendar, Documents & Spreadsheets and Google Talk (an instant messaging client).

Prior to the Salesforce.com partnership, Google tried to improve enterprise confidence in Google Apps by acquiring Postini, a vendor that handles e-mail messaging encryption.

The overall partnership has been seen as helping give Google a new sales channel to reach prospective enterprise customers. IT departments have been trying to understand how Google Apps could fit into their enterprise environments. They were at first hesitant about moving tools such as e-mail into a hosted model where they don’t keep servers on premise, says Jeffrey Kaplan, president of THINKstrategies, a SaaS consulting firm.

“But this friendly relationship [between Google and Salesforce.com] is going to continue to evolve,” Kaplan says. “They are happy to show how their two [application] environments can coexist.”

Would Google consider acquiring Salesforce.com to shore up its ambitions of selling enterprise software? Kaplan says “it’s a fair prediction, especially if there is specific prompt.”

Such an impetus would be if Oracle or another old-guard technology company made a hostile bid for Salesforce.com, he says. “Google might come in as a white night to save them if that happened,” Kaplan adds.

But buying Salesforce.com wouldn’t be easy or cheap, a recent report by the 451 Group speculated. While the vendor makes around $1 billion in revenue, “over the past year, Salesforce.com stock has tacked on 50% while the Nasdaq has basically flat-lined,” according to the report, which predicted Salesforce.com would cost Google (or anybody else) nearly $10.5 billion to purchase.

For now, however, the partnership should help developers utilize applications on both the Force.com platform and Google. It will cause fewer development headaches because the toolkit automates much of the process, says Sheryl Kingstone, an analyst with the Yankee Group

The end result? As Google and Salesforce.com focus mainly on the core functions of their applications, third-party developers can improve upon the applications by building additional features on top of them.

“That’s the whole Web 2.0 philosophy,” she says. “Focus on the foundation and let users build what they want. Enterprise apps never did that before.”

Salesforce.com Launches Salesforce Summer ‘08

Salesforce.com has announced that Salesforce Summer ’08 is live to all 43,600 salesforce.com customers. This solution represents the company’s 26th release in nine years and delivers the power of cloud computing to the enterprise.

Salesforce - Summer '08

Visualforce, part of the Force.com platform, is now live in every edition of Salesforce and is designed to enable users to develop any interface entirely in the cloud. Salesforce Content and Salesforce Ideas are also delivering new levels of customer success in Salesforce Summer ’08.

Both applications deliver true Web 2.0 collaboration capabilities to users globally. A total of 50 new CRM features are also live with Salesforce Summer ’08, thereby raising the bar for industry innovation.

“Consumers have been enjoying Web 2.0 features like voting and social networking on consumer web applications like Digg and Facebook (News - Alert) for years. But traditional enterprise applications are still stuck in the ’90s,” said George Hu, executive vice president marketing, applications and education at salesforce.com, in a Monday statement.

“Salesforce.com is changing all that by delivering Web 2.0 interfaces and collaboration technologies in Salesforce Summer 08.”

“As the CRM market continues to evolve, the integration of Web 2.0 technologies into CRM processes is a key step in driving greater end user productivity by making applications more intuitive to use,” said Rebecca Wettemann of Nucleus Research, in Monday’s statement.

“Salesforce.com’s advances in content and ideas management — as well as the release of Visualforce — in Salesforce Summer ’08 gives developers more tools and options to drive greater collaboration and increased productivity for users.”

Visualforce is a new technology for developing powerful user interfaces for any application built on Force.com, including Salesforce. The solution includes all the resources developers need to build rich, interactive applications and user experiences for a variety of audiences, applications and devices.

Visualforce features include pages to enable the design definition of a user interface; components, components to create new applications that match the look and feel of Salesforce; Apex Controllers to enable customers to build any user interface behavior; static resources to create, reference and manage resources; and inline page and controller editing.

Salesforce Content is designed to deliver the power of SaaS (News - Alert) to managing unstructured data within an enterprise by utilizing the best of consumer Web technologies such as tagging, subscriptions and recommendations.

Users of the Salesforce Content solution can manage their documents and unstructured data directly in Salesforce to improve productivity and effectiveness in every corner of the enterprise.

“Now we can collaborate with our entire community. With Salesforce Content, we have enhanced the experience of our customers by delivering the right information when it’s needed most,” said Steven Frers, Vice-President of Service and Support at CompassLearning, in Monday’s statement.

New features for Salesforce Content include global availability; and content analytics to allow usage metrics to be effectively tracked to determine the most frequently used content among sales reps, marketers and other users.

Salesforce Ideas is an entirely new type of application that enables customers to tap into the innovative power of their customer, partner or employee communities by allowing them to post, discuss, and vote on ideas.

Since its release, this application has enabled companies to effectively engage with their internal and customer communities. The release of Salesforce Summer ’08 is expected to enable companies to capture the unique perspective of their partner community by including Salesforce Ideas in the Salesforce Partner Portal.

Salesforce Ideas offers new features such as multiple communities that allows companies to create multiple communities to better organize and segment the ideas coming from multiple groups; and customizable ideas that allows users to customize fields and expose data directly to the original posting.

In April, salesforce.com and Google announced their second joint product, Salesforce for Google Apps. This new solution is a way for business professionals to communicate, collaborate and work together in real time over the Web.

Salesforce is taking an innovative and proactive approach to delivering solutions that its customers need in order to achieve differentiation in their respective markets. The company understands the challenges that its customers face every day and has responded with solutions that address those challenges.

These latest releases from Salesforce not only address the daily needs of the customer, they allow users to integrate information within their chosen community to drive further collaboration and development that will drive adoption and market share. In intensely competitive markets, such capability will make these users hard to beat.

Appirio Cloud Storage for Salesforce.com

Appirio today announced Appirio Cloud Storage for Salesforce.com, a new software-as-a-service (SaaS) offering that uses Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) to extend the capabilities of salesforce.com. The new service lets Salesforce.com users store more documents and larger files directly through the salesforce.com interface, giving companies a more comprehensive view of customer information in one place, without dramatically increasing storage costs or adding user complexity.

Appirio Cloud Storage for salesforce.com can be installed via AppExchange. It is the latest in a series of products from Appirio that combine capabilities from today’s leading SaaS applications and cloud computing platforms to help customers lower operational costs, improve user productivity and get more return from their on-demand investments.