The rumors are flying everywhere about a Google and salesforce.com's pending nuptials. They are going to merge, salesforce is going to be acquired by Google, they are partnering, they are having sex in multiple locations (don't have the link to that)- in public. They are pursued by paparazzi, they are harassed as they eat at Indigo Landing, they are....I can't say THAT!! In fact, the rumor will be put to bed on June 5 at a luncheon with Marc Benioff in SF that I'm invited to, desperately want to attend and can't because we have the CustomerThink formerly known as CRMGuru retreat on June 4-5-6 in Santa Clara - an annual event I look forward to every year. But, my prediction is straight up. Salesforce.com and Google announce a partnership that is aimed squarely at seizing the platform space from Microsoft - though they may not put it that way, given Google's dissembling propensity to say that they aren't competing with Microsoft. Something like Seinfeld's "and there's nothing wrong with that." If you want to read the straight scoop, check out Denis Pombriant's blog and his "annus mirabilis entry. As always, the best take on it all.
But the war is over platform dominance and the victor's spoils are dominance in the realm of what is more or less a composite applications platform. Most of the serious vendors have figured this out and are in pitched battles that are galactic in scope to win that one.
Huh? What's Platform Dominance?
The reason is that big bucks come to those whose platform rules. That means that whatever applications, services, and user interfaces you want, you can get it - on the platform you chose. All of a sudden it is not an SFA application, it is whatever you want it to be. It is not a social networking site, it is whatever you want it to be. It is not an enterprise application, it is whatever you want it to be. It is not a personal productivity suite or a search engine or a.... it is whatever you want it to be.
That means a BIG market, and LOTS of reach, and OODLES of dollars and TONS of customers (in the obese US market TONS means 10 customers - Ha Ha. Yuk. Yuk.).
Think about it, salesforce, SAP and Microsoft have long pushed the platform as a strategy. Companies like Above All have always been smart, out in the forefront of the composite applications space. Last week at Software 2007, Steve Ballmer took the world's leading personal productivity suite (guess....) and magically transformed it into the Microsoft Office platform. Office became as the front end for Office Business Applications e.g. ERP as the back end. In fact, this platform play too was described as a platform for composite applications which I've written extensively on.
These are wise attempts because he who rules the platform, rules the technology world. And the dollars associated with it.
Which made some of the other announcements of the last two or three days more important but less melodramatic than the Googleforce (or salesoogle, which I like better) buzz.
Second Facebook announced the release of a "social utility" platform that has enormous possibilities and makes me finally understand why they turned down a billion dollars.
SOA As A Service
When I first heard the term, I thought, hmmm, service oriented architecture as a service. Now what does that mean? I had no idea how you offered a web-services based, business-rules directed architecture as an on demand offering. But...
Well, the more I read, the more I observed and the more I thought about it, I realized that what salesforce.com is actually offering is a composite applications toolkit using Apex, their programming language - meaning that Apex and APIs and other pieces will allow you to link the business rules and the data you have to multiple applications - either new or legacy.
Whatever it is, it is an important step for salesforce and another proof that the war ain't over. I'll do more down the road on this once I see what it actually can do. Right now, see the strategy, the big pitcher, the large kahuna and you'll see how SOA as a service fits into the Grand Schema of Thingsa.
Facebook's platform is essentially a set of tools to build services inside the Facebook "social utility" (for some reason, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, doesn't like being called a "social network." Don't know why....). That could be pretty much anything. That means that they could build a restaurant recommendation engine and peer review site that would link to the outside restaurants or they could build a. ummm, uhhh, how about, oooohhh, lesseee, mmmmm....here's what they have so far:
Not exactly a sterling collection of enteprise-strength apps, but I guess its a start. The important thing here is that while this is a nascent platform, it is a transition toward a similar direction that we see Google, salesforce.com, SAP, Microsoft, Rearden Commerce, Above All, and a dozen other companies moving in - a drive for platform-dominance and agnostic services/applications provision on that platform. Sometimes the business value isn't apparent to the customer but it sure is a revenue generator to the platform provider.
Another baby industry trend brought to you by PGreenblog.
Much more later...NetSuite Goes Mobile....