Salesforce beefs up database, Heroku, mobile offerings

Salesforce aims to broaden customer base by adding new functions to the core of its product line.

SAN FRANCISCO -- With a series of enhancements to its core platforms this week at its annual Dreamforce conference, Salesforce.com showed once again that it is determined to win customers far beyond the sales automation crowd that launched its business more than a decade ago.  

That determination is taking Salesforce out of the cloud and back into customers’ data centers. Tucked among the many announcements this week was the Data Residency Option (DRO), a feature of Database.com, which was announced last year and is now generally available. With DRO, customers can choose to keep their data on their servers while using the Salesforce applications.

“With all the conversation about the social enterprise, we can't lose sight of how brilliant a move that DRO is for customers,” said Paul Greenberg, president of The 56 Group. “Salesforce has solved a business problem and perception issue that has plagued both SaaS [Software as a Service] and the cloud from almost Day 1 -- data security. It addresses with one move the issue of where data resides and decisively eliminates of the longest-standing questions that customers had on SaaS and the cloud.”

In a keynote address, Marc Benioff, Salesforce.com’s CEO, said DRO is designed to help companies that may have restrictions, such as “government policies” that have prevented them from migrating to the cloud.

Salesforce also took steps to pull in new customers with enhanced mobile support for its core sales automation applications in a new product, touch.salesforce.com. Supporting the HTML5 standard, touch.salesforce.com will allow users to access applications from a variety of mobile devices. This mobile support extends to the Force.com development platform, allowing customers to develop mobile apps for the Salesforce environment.

Medtronic Inc., a maker of medical devices headquartered in Mounds View, Minn., said it is pleased that Salesforce will be supporting HTML5.

“This will transform how we use Salesforce.com,” said Tom Grooms, vice president of global commercial IT at Medtronic. “We were getting close to having to write applications several different times” to support many different mobile devices. With touch.salesforce.com, “we write the app once,” Grooms added.

On the development front, Salesforce.com announced Heroku for Java, which could help extend its reach to a key element of the development community. Currently, the Heroku platform supports Ruby on Rails, Clojure and Node. The Java support is a nod to the millions of Java developers who “want a clear path to social, mobile and open cloud networks,” Salesforce said in a statement.

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