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Why Salesforce Is Winning The Cloud Platform War

300px-Salesforce_Logo_2009The future of any enterprise software vendor is being decided today in their developer community.

Alex William’s insightful thoughts on Salesforce Is A Platform Company. Period. underscores how rapidly Salesforce is maturing as a cloud platform.  And the best measure of that progress can be seen in their developer community.

(To be clear, Salesforce and the other companies mentioned in this post are not clients and never have been.  I track this area out of personal interest.)

The last four years I’ve made a point at every Salesforce Dreamforce event to spend the majority of my time in the developer area.  Watching mini hacks going on in the DevZone, mini workshops, the Salesforce Platform and Developer keynotes over the last few years has been a great learning experience.  An added plus: developers are often skeptical and want to see new enhancements help streamline their code, extend its functionality, and push the limits of the Force.com platform. This healthy skepticism has led to needed improvements in the Force.com platform, including a change to governor limits on Application Programmer Interface (APIs) performance and many other enhancements.  Despite the criticisms of Force.com being proprietary due to Apex and SOQL, the crowds at developer forums continue to grow every year.

I’ve started to look at the developer area as the crucible or foundry for future apps.  While the Cloud Expo shows how vibrant the partner ecosystem is, the developer area is where tomorrow’s apps are being coded today. The Force.com Workbook, an excellent reference for Force.com developers, was just released October 1 and DeveloperForce shows how far the developer support is matured in Salesforce.  In addition a new Force.com REST API Developer’s Guide is out just last month.

The Journey From Application To Platform

In visiting the developer area of Dreamforce over the last four years I’ve seen indications that Salesforce is successfully transforming itself into a cloud platform business:

How Enterprise Applications Make The Salesforce Platform Work For Them

In speaking with Salesforce developers over the years one of my favorite questions continues to be “what is the real payoff of having a native Force.com application in your company?”  Initially I thought this was marketing spin from enterprise software vendors attempting to use features as benefits, however after a closer look it is clear that the platform has significant advantages, especially for any solution requiring global deployments or large numbers of users.  Here is what I found out:

Bottom Line: Enabling developers to attain greater revenue growth, while creating an extensive mobile app development platform is further proof Salesforce has turned the corner from being an application company to a platform provider.

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