Whoa! I’ve been so immersed in Dreamforce that it’s hard to track time. I walked out of the last session today to find that the sun had set, yet it only felt like midday to me!
Today’s keynote presentation was, for me, somewhat boring. Marc Benioff did a recap of Chatter and the platform, which was all old news by now. He then brought on a succession of partners who swore allegiance to the Force.com platform. The most interesting aspect was the presence of CEOs from two big names in IT, BMC and CA, both wanting to appear on-stage with Marc. This is a clear sign that Salesforce.com is shaking up the industry, much like Marc appearing on-stage at the recent Oracle event.
Unfortunately, what BMC and CA showed were pretty pitiful. When Marc ask BMC how long it had taken to develop their app, they said something like 1-2 months — to which I think: “How dare they show a one-month effort to an audience like this who could build it themselves if it’s so simple.” Are they trying to show apps that they want us to buy, or are they just wanting to promote acceptance of the platform? I’m confused.
CA’s demonstration was also quite ‘nothing’. It’s an Agile project planner that is meant to work in conjunction with CA’s Clarity Program Management software. I know a fair bit about this product, since I was a pre-sales rep selling that software 3 years ago. CA isn’t going to move Clarity to the Force.com platform, so why did they create the Agile Planner on Force.com? Not much functionality was shown (a bit of drag and drop, plus charts that didn’t update) — hardly worthy of a keynote presentation. (Disclaimer: My current employer, Atlassian, sells an Agile development tool, Greenhopper, that works in their JIRA bug tracking tool, so it would compete with CA’s Agile Planner.)
More impressive was the work that poster-child Appirio presented. It was real custom Force.com coding, showing integration with Google Apps and use of Chatter. If you look carefully at their screens, you’ll see the name Jason Oullette, a developer at Appirio. I had the pleasure of meeting Jason, who has just released the first book about Force.com development that wasn’t written by Salesforce themselves. I’ll blog about the book later, together with an interview with Jason.
Once again, the Expo floor was teeming with people, but this was both a blessing and a curse. There are so many people out there, that vendors are probably having difficulty finding serious prospects. I guess it’s a quality vs quantity thing. I guess it’s better than not having enough people turn up!
Once again, I managed to attend a presentation by Craig Weissman, CTO of Salesforce.com. Here’s some technical gems I thought noteworthy:
- The whole Force.com and Salesforce.com platform operates on one code base — there’s no need to fix bugs in 3-year old releases, because everyone is running the same ‘version’ of code
- There will soon be ‘web push’ to update Appexchange apps out in the wild. So, all ‘customers’ who use an Appexchange app will be on the latest version, although it’s advisable to only turn on new functionality with their permission.
- Salesforce has put a LOT of effort into preserving old APIs, ensuring that they don’t break as new features are added. Their code base is filled with API version checks to maintain old functionality. Yes, apparently lots of people are still making calls with API v6.
Finally, a note about the Salesforce Foundation. Marc Benioff delivered a stirring story about giving back to the community, which was followed up by an empowering session from Colin Powell. All of this selling and technology may be lots of fun, but it’s great to have everything put into perspective by reminding us that we, too, have to help the wider community. Indeed, my employer also has the Atlassian Foundation that was modeled after the Salesforce Foundation. Salesforce.com certainly has my respect for their efforts in this area.
The Bottom Line
- Other companies are scrambling to work with the Force.com platform
- Give back to the community