Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Now with database.com and heroku - how does salesforce.com stack up in the PaaS market?

While collaboration was a clear theme at Dreamforce with the launch of Chatter Free, Dreamforce ‘10 will be remembered for the serious saleforce.com play into PaaS. Over the course of just two Dreamforce keynotes, the PaaS market altered dramatically.  Salesforce.com launched database.com a database-as-a-service offering and announced the acquisition of Heroku a small but well-known Ruby on Rails cloud service. Along with some enhancements and re-organisation of offerings under the Force.com label, salesforce.com invested their brand fully into the PaaS market.

While SaaS serves the end user, PaaS serves the developer community enabling rapid solution delivery on an elastic infrastructure. However, the audience for PaaS is somewhat wider than the traditional development community. In addition to the usual Java and .NET code junkies, some PaaS offerings such Workxpress and Orangescape strive to make development more simple through “drag and drop” style configuration. Such configuration tools will appeal to the cottage industry of developers that work "on the business side". Just as MS Access and Excel enabled Andy in front-office to build that interim project app which ICT have spent the last years trying to kill off, the cloud gives more powerful and easier to use options (that ICT could spend many more years trying to bring under control!).

So having set the standard for software-as-a-service, how does salesforce.com now stack up against the competition in the PaaS market? It’s a perfect time to take stock of the present landscape and what it offers.