With the help of Web-application powerhouse Adobe, Marc Benioff -- Salesforce.com's founder, chairman, and chief executive officer -- brings his company's Force.com platform to the corporate desktop.
Posted Feb 25, 2008
Everyday Internet users who surf Google's YouTube or download PDF files are familiar with Adobe's Flash Player and its Acrobat Reader. Now Salesforce.com has teamed with Adobe to give its Force.com platform developers the tools to create desktop applications that would include these same Adobe functions.
Salesforce.com today released its Force.com Toolkit for Adobe AIR and Flex, designed to introduce functions known as rich Internet applications (RIAs) into online and offline applications. The toolkit allows developers on Force.com -- Salesforce.com's on-demand platform for application development -- to create desktop business applications that include these RIAs for their Force.com projects, says Adam Gross, Salesforce.com's vice president of developer marketing.
They key word here is desktop, Gross stresses. The pairing will allow Force.com developers to move their applications off the Internet and onto the desktop -- a capability, he adds, that many had sought. The Adobe features will give those desktop applications the look and feel users have come to expect from standard Web offerings, such as YouTube.
"The significance for Salesforce.com is that this allows us to provide an offline component to the Force.com platform," Gross says. "For Force.com, you have to be connected to the Internet to use our capabilities and services. Now, companies can build, say, a database application and run it as a service and then -- using AIR and the Force.com toolkit -- they can develop an offline extension to this Force.com application."
The capability comes thanks to Adobe's Integrated Runtime, or AIR, the third iteration of the Flex development framework, which Adobe released Monday. With the new Force.com toolkit for AIR, developers can build or include an offline tool for use in the field, one which automatically synchs up with an online application when the Internet is launched, Gross adds.
The Force.com and Adobe pairing will further Salesforce.com's position as not just a software-as-a-service (SaaS) vendor, but a platform-as-a-service one as well, says Denis Pombriant, founder and managing principal of Beagle Research Group, a CRM consultancy. Salesforce.com, he adds, is now able to stress to developers that they can call upon the platform for applications that range well beyond traditional CRM use.
These varied desktop applications -- Gross speaks of a database application, for example -- will advance that message, Pombriant says. "Salesforce.com is getting into the business of [providing] any application you can think of, so they need multiple strategies," Pombriant says. "Previously, Salesforce.com liked what Adobe did, so bringing them into the fold makes the relationship bilateral now. Adobe might actually help push Force.com products [further] into the marketplace."
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