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Dreamforce 09: Force.com Is The New Black

Yesterday at Dreamforce, it was all about Salesforce Chatter. Today, CEO Marc Benioff took some time to tell us about Force.com’s progress, and it’s pretty impressive. Benioff lamented the fact that companies like Oracle charge annual maintenance fees for the kinds of services offered by Force.com, and it seems people agree: there are currently more than 135,000 custom applications built with Force.com, and more than 200,000 programmers in its developer network. And starting at $25 per user per month, and offering speedy development timelines, it’s plain to see why so many are clamoring for Force.com.

Development on Force.com is cheaper for companies because their programmers don’t have to test their applications against multiple combinations of databases, servers, etc. Furthermore, users are Salesforce.com customers, and therefore need not invest in hardware. Some note that it is potentially difficult to export applications built there to other platforms, but even large software vendors are taking note of Force.com’s popularity, particularly IT management companies (the larger of which have been a bit hesitant to begin the shift to the cloud).

IT management software company CA announced at Dreamforce today that they will be releasing a Force.com-built system, CA Agile Planner, which is for managing responsive software developments. More specifically, the product will allow programmers to develop various increments of applications to provide for continual feedback. CA’s CEO, John Swainson, even called Force.com’s growth “nothing short of amazing.”

Another IT management company proudly joining in is BMC: today they announced their Service Desk Express will be available via the Force.com platform in the spring of 2010. Service Desk Express will be sold, marketed, and available via Salesforce.com, and BMC execs are saying this will allow more IT departments to take advantage of the technology. BMC’s CEO, Bob Beauchamp, lauded cloud computing’s ability to “abstract all complexity of the infrastructure that rely on IT services delivery and follow best practices.” And while Beauchamp didn’t divulge any pricing details, he did add that serving IT management via the cloud would help their customers cut costs; it will also likely please their current customers, and companies everywhere are reevaluating any costly legacy systems they have.