Salesforce.com to Hosts Websites on Force.com
Salesforce.com doesn't want to get left behind when it comes to website hosting in the cloud. Force.com Sites is a new service offering that enables an organization to host their public websites and applications in the cloud, right alongside Google, Amazon and Microsoft. Never, in a million years would we have expected this move from Salesforce.com. Yeah right.Force.com Sites was officially announced today at the Salesforce.com Dreamforce conference. It's primarily targeted at existing Salesforce.com customers as a way to pull all their sites and applications together in a single architecture.
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Sample Force.com Site

Websites hosted within Force.com are built using Visualforce, the Force.com framework for developing user interfaces. This means that any application you may currently have on Force.com can be transformed into a web application. You can publish data from an existing Force.com organization to any Web site or build your application to run completely on Force.com.

Force.com Site Features

Some features of the new Force.com Sites: * Integrate public websites with Salesforce.com organization (no authentication required) * Use a Force.com URL or a unique domain * Use Visualforce application development framework * Take advantage of syndication feeds to view changes in a Force.com site * Improve site performance via caching functionality According to a CNet article, "There are a lot of people out there who struggle with the infrastructure demands," he [Kendall Collins, senior vice president of product marketing at Salesforce.com] said. Force.com Sites lets Salesforce.com customers publish data and applications stored in Force.com to any Web site. Salesforce.com provides the cloud-based infrastructure services."
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Sample Force.com Site

Availability of Force.com Sites

Force.com is currently used to create internal applications for a company. The introduction of Force.com Sites takes Salesforce.com into a slightly new direction -- such as Microsoft's Windows Azure, Amazon S3 and the Google AppEngine. The primary differences between Force.com Sites and the others are that it has its own programming language (Apex Code) for development and is targeted at existing Force.com customers to expand their own application data to the public. One can argue that both Microsoft only supports their own language, but they claim it's only temporary. At the same time, Google currently only supports a single language -- Phython, also only temporary. Remember Salesforce CEO Mark Benioff’s vision to “to remake the software world and replace Microsoft as a leading business software platform for building any kind of application”. This may just be another step that moves Salesforce.com in that direction. Force.com Sites are currently only available as a Developer Preview. You can get access to the Developer Preview Program by attending a webinar on December 2, 2008. General availability is expected sometime in 2009.