Wednesday, December 08, 2010

First impressions: far outgrows its name

I'm here in San Francisco covering Dreamforce 2010, the annual conference of (SFDC).

Over the past several years, and especially from the keynotes given thus far, it is apparent that needs a corporate name change. With roots as SaaS provider of salesforce automation system, the firm's services have expanded to a broad set of applications and applications development platform services.

More on that in a minute, but first, check out the energy and enthusiasm on display here at Dreamforce--from CEO Mark Benioff's on-stage cheer-leading to the vigor of the exposition floor. For example, one small developer told me last night that on the first day of the expo, he walked away with 75 good sales leads. I shot some quick video, which can give you a little window into the vibe, in spite of the dreary, rainy weather outside.

Okay, back to the issue: does SFDC need a name change? Just consider the following:
  1. SFDC's own functionality has been expanded to include customer service applications, bringing its footprint further into complete CRM territory.

  2. Back in 2006, the company opened up its development platform to third-parties, allowing them to build their own commercial applications and sell them via its AppExchange marketplace. The platform itself has since been renamed Since then, independent software vendors have developed something like 1000 products on AppExchange, either as extensions to or in addition to's own products.

  3. Earlier this year, SFDC announced its intent to acquire Jigsaw Data Corp, which provides current data on businesses and contact information, putting SFDC into the data services business.

  4. Earlier this year as well, SFDC introduced its Twitter-like capability, dubbed Chatter, which provides a secure, private social/collaboration environment from within SFDC's services and systems built on

  5. Building out its platform-as-a-service (PaaS) capabilities, SFDC earlier this year launched a joint-venture with VMware to provide Java development capabilities as part of its platform, allowing third-party developers to use Java instead of SFDC's own proprietary development language. Furthermore, just yesterday, SFDC announced its agreement to acquire Heroku, a PaaS provider for the Ruby-on-Rails development platform. Ruby is an increasingly popular development platform for rapid application development, including many social and mobile applications.

  6. Another announcement during the conference this year: SFDC is introducing something called, which gives developers a cloud-based database capability, even if they are not building on SFDC's own platform.
This is just a partial list of the ways in which SFDC has moved far beyond salesforce automation to become something of a cloud-based development environment. So, as I said, at some point, I think a name-change would be in order.

For a deeper dive on the Heroku acquisition and the announcement, see the post from my colleague, Dennis Howlett, Salesforce's as a game changer now they've acquired Heroku?

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