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Salesforce.com’s Trojan Horse API Strategy

DreamForce 2010 had energy, intensity and focus that is rarely seen in enterprise software events.  There are many excellent summaries of the event with Michael Krisgman’s The new age of sexy enterprise software – Part 1: Salesforce.com gets mojo being one of the best.

The bottom line is that Salesforce.com is redefining enterprise software – not just at the marketing or user level – but at the developer level as well.
2010: The Year of the Trojan Horse

At the center of this year’s DreamForce is the transformation of Salesforce.com into an enterprise platform provider, an endorser of open APIs including REST (Representational State Transfer), which the Salesforce.com development community had been asking for over a year.  As the Google Trend graphic shows, the timing of a REST-based Salesforce.com API couldn’t’ have been better, it is now leading other APIs in terms of interest in trending data and adoption. Please click on the Google Trends graphic to enlarge for easier viewing.

Like the REST announcement, the timing of the Heroku acquisition last week shows how committed Salesforce.com is to creating a world-class development platform.  Having Ruby on Rails as part of the development suite of applications further accelerates this strategy of dominating development platforms.  The VMWare alliance does the same for Java.

There’s also urgency for getting as many developers onto Salesforce.com platforms, you can sense that in the presentations from the VPs of Development and from Marc Benioff as well.  The quicker they can reach critical mass with developers on the Force.com platform the quicker they can move on to entirely new application areas.  Chris Brogan would call it escape velocity and in the world of Salesforce.com, it looks a lot like a Trojan horse strategy of having as many applications in the enterprise on their platform as quickly as possible.

In the coming months, there will be more API-based announcements, more of an endorsement of open APIs.  JSON APIs for example will become increasingly important in this strategy.  Salesforce.com is out to win the stack war with a developer and API-driven land grab.  CloudStock showed this company knows how to excel at evangelism.  Time will tell if the Trojan horse strategy, now in full force, succeeds.

Note: The following is an excellent presentation on open APIs presented last week at CloudStock by John Musser.  The analysis of Open API trending and analysis is worth reading, Salesforce.com must be studying these statistics given the strategy directions they are choosing.

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