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Salesforce.com Goes Deeper On Mobile and Social Development

Over the past year, Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff has evangelized the social enterprise and the shift by workers to mobile devices. In addition to enabling social networking by bringing out apps such as Chatter and acquiring companies like Radian 6 last year and Buddy Media earlier this month, the company has its cloud-based platform, Force.com and Database.com, that lets developers and ISVs integrate their apps with Saleforce.com.

Just how formidable is Force.com these days? Company officials say the platform recorded 54 billion transactions last quarter, hosts 300,000 custom apps and its AppExchange, launched in 2005, hosts 1,500 ISV applications.

With its emphasis on the social enterprise and mobile users, Salesforce has extended its platform to ease the development of next-generation apps. The company updates the platform three times a year and today has issued its latest release, called "Summer 12," which officials said will make it easier for developers to add social networking capabilities to legacy and new apps and target them to mobile devices.

Targeting mobile clients is hardly unique these days. Forrester Research estimates one-fifth of those with mobile devices use them to go online and mobile users will outnumber people using their PCs within four years.

The Summer 12 release gains native geo-location fields in database.com for location-aware apps, typing them to maps. "Every object in the database first gets geo-located, you can imagine the pretty amazing set of apps that are going to come from that," said Adam Seligman, Saleforce.com's VP of developer relations.

Salesforce has also added a new Web-based tool called Schema Builder that lets developers drag and drop cloud databases with via REST APIs within database.com. Additional REST-based APIs included to target mobile devices accessing Chatter that lets developers collaborate on any object within database.com.

"The cycle of trying to get a database provisioned and to define what your schema ought to be, while making sure the security model is going to work and be consistent across your organization all gets simplified down to one cloud database," Seligman said. To improve security, the platform now has support for OAuth, a standard for authentication.

Seligman said the new platform makes it easier for developers to embed security controls into their apps. Connected Apps lets developers include pin-level security. The new APIs support streaming enabling developers to allow their apps to be updated in real-time, while using the security controls, he explained.

All of this is done as an alternative to messaging middleware and traditional application servers, added Quinton Wall, director of technical platform marketing at Salesforec.com. The ability to push updates to applications out in real time means ISVs and partners can release updates when they choose, Wall told me (he elaborated on Summer 12 in a blog post). "Everything is becoming real time in the enterprise," he said. "We expect that in our lives and developers expect that as well."

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 06/19/2012 at 1:14 PM


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