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Wednesday
Dec082010

Salesforce gets the hat-trick: chatter.com, database.com, and Heroku

From Wikipedia (that authoritative source of all knowledge):

In sport, a hat-trick (or hat trick) means to achieve a positive feat in the sport three times during a game, or other achievements based on threes.

Tonight, John Furrier (@Furrier) of Silicon Angle asked a number of the Cloud Club Alumni what we thought about the Heroku acquisition that was announced this morning.  Bernard Golden (@bernardgolden) CEO of HyperStratus , Randy Bias (@randybias) CEO of Cloudscaling and I all weighed in.  I threw something together quickly, and then thought it might be worth posting.

The Heroku deal is one third of a tremendous three-fer: Chatter.com (which was announced, and should be in place in February 2011), database.com (a scalable, almost direct replacement for a MySQL service, with no need for admins), and Heroku.  

First, one of the areas in which Heroku has been very successful, and popular with the developer community, is as the basis for web-based applications that build on top of social media -- mostly Twitter and Facebook. Salesforce has just announced what could, arguably, become 'the Twitter of business' with the establishment of its 'freemium' social networking service (Chatter.com).  After successfully rolling it out as a value-added feature of Salesforce, Chatter is being expanded to cover communities well beyond those who use Salesforce.com (or Force.com). With the acquisition of Heroku, and the effort to make Chatter available through a variety of APIs,  the availability of Heroku as a development platform for web-based applications deriving value from social networks is near perfection.

Take another look at one of the most innovative and well executed aspects of Heroku -- the 'add-on' exchange, that excellent collection of other SaaS and functional platform services that Ruby on Rails developers have at their beck and call.  With the availability of database.com, a new hosted service will show up in the Add-on catalog, taking its place with other data-oriented services like Cloudant, Amazon RDS, MongoHQ, Redis and, of course, the venerable Memcached.  Now in the mix there will be a highly scalable SQL-like data base service with the same low administrative 'overhead' that users of Heroku have come to expect.  Throw in some effort for a nice integration, likely to be followed VERY closely by more pieces of the Force.com catalog, and the RoR developer community has just picked up some powerful new tools with which to work.

This is an environment that will encourage agile development, based on a devops model, without the concerns of managing and administering infrastructure.  Certainly, there will be questions raised about integration with the rest of the SFDC infrastructure, though it's not at all clear that's high on the priority list.  For some insight as to how Salesforce.com and Heroku are presenting the impending union, see this post by Ben Kepes.

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