Dreamforce 2007, Salesforce.com 's annual conference for developers, was intended to create buzz surrounding the company's Force.com on-demand platform. But it was the SaaS (software as a service) pioneer's Visualforce technology that truly stole the show, according to Info-Tech Research Group analyst Timothy Hickernell."Visualforce was a hit with the crowd," reported Hickernell, referring to the more than 7,000 attendees from 42 countries who gathered in San Francisco's Moscone Center from Sept. 16 to 19, 2007.
Force.com offers developers a new way to create and deploy business applications without having to worry about software and infrastructure complexities. Instead, by replacing sophisticated software platforms with scalable platform-as-a-service technology, Force.com provides developers the fastest path to turn ideas into business applications. What's more, the Force.com platform lets users run multiple applications within the same Salesforce instance, allowing all of a company's Salesforce applications to share a common security model, data model and user interface.
"People were very happy about [the Force.com announcement] but not necessarily because they can't wait to build their own applications on it," said Hickernell. "Everybody realizes it just increases the amount of options and additional partner software that's going to be available to them by now allowing businesses to write software directly on the platform."
As part of the Force.com platform, Visualforce will give customers the power to design application user interfaces for any experience on any screen. Using the powerful workflow intelligence provided by Apex Code, Visualforce offers the flexibility to meet the requirements of applications that feature many different types of users on a variety of devices. For example, companies can create easy-to-use interfaces that are custom-designed for mobile devices such as iPhones and Tablet PCs.
"[The Visualforce announcement] went over far better, because it's such a pain point for companies that want to extend experiences to customers and partners whose mobile experience they can't control," said Hickernell. "This now gives companies the option to extend their customer-facing and partner-facing capabilities with Salesforce.com to a plain, old-fashioned mobile browser, and that was really why attendees were most excited."
Conference hype aside, Salesforce.com's platform efforts have yet to take the developer world by storm. Despite attempts to carve out a new revenue stream, the company's bread and butter still hinges on delivering SaaS CRM solutions.
Warned Hickernell, "As Salesforce.com becomes more than a CRM company, the challenge is not to sacrifice best-of-class CRM solutions in the process," a challenge that entails pushing the platform envelope without diluting Salesforce.com's legacy as an on-demand CRM trailblazer.
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