Salesforce bundles Force.com and Heroku as part of new enterprise push

Credit: via Wikimedia Commons

Salesforce continues its drive to get Heroku, its platform-as-a-service for building slick, next-generation cloud applications, into the enterprise with the announcement of the Salesforce1 Customer App Dev Package. This package bundles Heroku together with Force.com for an easy-to-consume platform-as-a-service (PaaS) foundation to get customers up and running quickly. 

When the package becomes available later this year, customers will be able to subscribe to Force.com and Heroku with a single click, enabling developers and operations teams to get everything they need to build and scale applications that tie into the larger Salesforce platform in lockstep, with a single predictable pricing model.

"This package is an all-you-can-eat, one-stop shop," says Salesforce VP of Platform Scott Holden. 

As a quick primer: Force.com is Salesforce.com's homegrown platform-as-a-service, with a focus on helping developers build employee-facing applications on top of data drawn from the Salesforce.com ecosystem, including CRM and the Sales Cloud. On the other hand, Heroku, which Salesforce acquired in 2011, is designed to be much more attractive for developers building customer-facing web apps, with Silicon Valley mainstays like Lyft and MailChimp building their web-based services on top of its more cutting-edge language support. The caveat is that Heroku has earned a reputation as being ideal for startups, but not much of an enterprise tool. 

The result: Many of Salesforce's customers use either platform, but not both. Plenty of startups make use of Heroku alone, while a lot of enterprise developers who already have Salesforce hooks use Force.com to build their employee portals and intranets and leave it there.

But taken together, Holden says, the two platforms have the potential to let customers take advantage of a best-of-both-worlds scenario: Shiny, slick apps for customers that still have deep hooks into Salesforce CRM and internal tools. Which is why, as part of the company's Salesforce1 initiative, the company is deepening Heroku's hooks into Salesforce.com (in the form of Heroku1, a tool for tighter API integration between the platforms) and pushing it hard at enterprise customers in an effort to have it transcend its startup-y reputation. 

"We want our customer base to come to love Heroku," says Holden. 

In the real world, there are some proof points for the synergy of the two platforms together. As CITEworld recently reported, New England Biolabs uses a combination of Heroku and Force.com to power "talking freezers" for research labs that offer scientists a user-friendly, slick, "app-like" interface for selecting and purchasing their products -- and report back to home base when they need to be refilled. 

It's success stories like that, Holden says, that point to why the company is trying to make it easier for customers to take advantage of both platforms simultaneously. If customers can buy both simultaneously, it lowers the bar for both explaining and delivering the value of the two working in concert. 

All that said, the package gives you no advantage in functionality or interoperability versus buying capacity on Heroku or Force.com individually -- which leads me to suspect that Salesforce will be offering some kind of price break or other incentive when it becomes formally available later this year. 

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