It’s a very busy holiday season for Salesforce.com (news, site). Not only did the company announced its new database-as-a-service, Database.com, at DreamForce,but it also agreed to purchase cloud-based Ruby platform provider Heroku (news, site) for US$ 212 million. Salesforce is happy. Heroku is happy. But, what about Amazon?
Heroku is a Ruby platform-as-a-service on top of Amazon Web Services infrastructure. Founded in 2007, the company gained popularity by hosting Facebook applications such as Travel Ballon and QuizCreator.
Heroku provides a Ruby development and deployment environment that allows developers to focus only on coding. The company manages deployment, monitoring, scaling and other services for a monthly subscription fee.
Many are assuming that Heroku will abandon Amazon EC2 for Salesforce’s cloud infrastructure, but Heroku CEO Byron Sebastian says no. Sebastian has indicated Heroku does not intend to leave Amazon, and in fact, expects to expand use.
Salesforce’s latest purchase is not about dominance of infrastructure, at least in the short term. The acquisition of Heroku is really focused on broadening Salesforce’s application development platform and increasing its potential user community. Currently, Salesforce applications can be developed in the company’s proprietary Java-like APEX language, Java via VMForce or .Net.
Buying Heroku adds support for the popular web-development Ruby language. Ruby is used for many high traffic sites like Twitter and Hulu; Salesforce is also using the language for Database.com. The move will also potentially attract large community developers using Heroku to develop Force.com applications, which would provide more value to Salesforce’s customers.
The Value for Heroku
What is Heroku getting from this deal (I mean other than a huge wad of Salesforce cash)? Heroku’s new relationship with Salesforce gives the company entry to the enterprise market. As one of the first platform-as-a-service providers, Salesforce has established credibility in many large organizations that have never given Ruby or Heroku a friendly glance.
Now that Heroku has joined with Salesforce, it gains sophisticated sales processes, improved security for data and applications, increased IT policy compliance and more premium support options. Further, Salesforce has agreed to allow Heroku to remain independent and retain its focus on enabling developers.
Salesforce and Heroku both seem very excited about the new relationship. But, only time will reveal if the merger achieves the level of success the companies anticipate.