Tag Archives: salesforce

Quick thoughts on Salesforce and Google Cloud Platform alliance


Yesterday Salesforce and Google announced a strategic partnership:

1. Salesforce named Google Cloud as “a preferred public cloud provider”. Salesforce says it “continues to invest in its own data centers”. However it will use public cloud infrastructure “for its core services” as well, especially in “select international markets.” Why is Google Cloud Platform (GCP) just a preferred partner and not the? Well, “AWS is a great partner”, as the release also notes.

2. New integrations will be introduced between Salesforce and G Suite (Gmail, Docs, Google Drive and Calendar for business), and there is a promotional offer of one year’s free G Suite for Salesforce customers. Note that the release also says “restrictions apply, see here”, with the see here link currently inactive.

3. Salesforce will integrate with Google Analytics.

Google has also posted about the partnership but adds little of substance to the above.

Why this alliance? On Google’s side, it is keen to build momentum for its cloud platform and to catch up a little with AWS and Microsoft Azure. Getting public support from a major cloud player like Salesforce is helpful. On the Salesforce side, it is an obvious alliance following the public love-in between Adobe and Microsoft Azure. Adobe competes with Salesforce in marketing tools, and Microsoft competes with Salesforce in CRM.

Google will also hope to win customers from Microsoft Exchange, Office and Office 365. However Salesforce knows it has to integrate nicely with Microsoft’s email and productivity tools as well as with G Suite. The analytics integration is a bigger deal here, thanks to the huge reach of Google’s cloud data and tools.

Microsoft and Salesforce: Office 365 integration in Salesforce 1

Salesforce has posted a video showing Microsoft Office 365 integration in the forthcoming version of Salesforce 1, its cloud platform and mobile app.

The demo is not in the least elaborate. It shows how a user opens the Salesforce 1 app on an iPhone:


searches for a document on Office 365 and previews in in the app:


taps the Word icon to edit in Word on the iPhone:


and shares the document with a colleague:


Not much too it; but it is the kind of workflow that makes sense to a busy executive.

This interests me for several reasons. One is that, historically, Salesforce and Microsoft are not natural partners. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff loves poking fun at the Redmond company. I remember how he spoke to the press about “Microsoft Azoon” soon after the launch of Azure. He did not believe that Microsoft grasped what cloud computing was. Of course his product also competes with Microsoft’s Dynamics CRM.

That said, Salesforce always tied in with Microsoft products like Active Directory and Outlook, because it needed to. It could be the same today, as Office 365 has grown too big to ignore, but I am sensing a little more warmth from Benioff in Microsoft’s Nadella era:


It is also worth noting that the workflow above needs iOS Office to work well. The example edit could have been done in Office Web Apps, I guess, but the native app is a much better experience. Microsoft’s decision was: do we keep Office as a selling point for Windows, or do we try to keep Office as the document standard in cloud and mobile, as it has been on the desktop? It chose the latter path, and this kind of partnership shows the wisdom of that strategy.

Making sense of Salesforce 1 (it’s all about mobile)

At its Dreamforce conference in San Francisco, Salesforce has been hyping up its newly announced Salesforce 1. The keynote left us in do doubt: it is fantastic, it does mobile, it does cloud, it does “internet of things”.


Co-founder Parker Harris describes Salesforce 1 at Dreamforce

But what is Salesforce 1? For those of us who like fluff-free facts, it has been difficult to discern. The APIs that make up the Salesforce 1 platform seemed on the face of it to be the same ones Salesforce has always had; yet the company says it has multiplied the number of APIs by 10 to create Salesforce 1 (a figure I still find hard to understand).

It is beginning to make sense to me. Salesforce 1 is a brand, a platform and an app.

As a brand, Salesforce 1 encompasses all the APIs that form the Salesforce platform. The best place to understand the current state of Salesforce 1 is here, where you can see links to all the APIs, including Force.com, Heroku, ExactTarget, Radian6 (social media listening), Pardot (sales automation), Desk.com (service cloud) and GoInstant (build real-time multi-user apps). Those individual APIs still exist in their own right, but Salesforce 1 is a new brand that encompasses all of them.

There is also a Salesforce 1 app for iOS and Android. This is mainly an HTML5 app, which makes it odd that it is iOS and Android only. As I understand it, you can also use a mobile browser and get a similar experience, so it might not be too bad for Windows Phone users after all.

The Salesforce 1 app is actually an evolution of the Chatter mobile app. As I understand it, it is built with the Aura framework, for creating a responsive user interface, with strong support for touch control. The Chatter app was renamed Salesforce 1 at the start of Dreamforce.

The Salesforce 1 app is built around a feed, and Salesforce describes it as a feed-first approach. Chatter has support for Publisher Actions, which now in Salesforce 1 have a more prominent role, making the feed capable of initiating tasks and being a mobile-friendly centre of operations. Some vendors I have spoken to, such as FinancialForce (wholly owned by Salesforce), see this feed-first approach as being the core of what Salesforce 1 is about. 

When Salesforce talks about creating Salesforce 1 apps, that might refer to either of two things.

One is to create custom apps for your Salesforce users, which you can do without needing much code in some cases, which will be viewed through the Salesforce 1 app.

The other is to use the Mobile SDK for iOS or Android to create a native app. This does not have to be an HTML5 app, but could be if you want the quickest route to something that works.

According to CEO Marc Benioff, speaking to the press, much of the effort behind Salesforce 1 was in making the Salesforce browser UI properly mobile-friendly. He said that this includes mobile client libraries as well as the server APIs. Salesforce has an rapid visual builder for browser apps running on its platform, called VisualForce, and apparently getting these apps working nicely on mobile took huge effort.

Benioff gave the impression that VisualForce now works perfectly on mobile, but the booklet given to developers expresses reservations:

Only VisualForce pages enabled for Salesforce Mobile Apps and attached to a tab can be added to the Salesforce 1 navigation menu. Note that you may have to optimize these pages to work and/or display correctly on a mobile device.

Nevertheless, you can see the intent here, that anything running on Salesforce will work well on a mobile device. Benioff says that he only takes a smartphone with him when travelling, no laptop or even tablet, and he expects to be able to do all his work through it.

You could therefore call Salesforce 1 the optimisation of the Salesforce platform for mobile, subject to the iOS/Android limitation.

According to Salesforce then, the new mobile-enabled platform is more productive than other app-building tools. The idea is that many corporate apps can be implemented to run in the existing Salesforce 1 app, which perhaps more correctly should be called a client, while apps that need to be deployed more broadly, such as to consumers, can be built using the Mobile SDK and deployed to the App Store or Google Play.

Developers of course are used to these kinds of claims and will be sceptical. Still, if you have adopted Salesforce to the extent that all your users are on the system, then it might make sense to build apps with Salesforce 1 and have a lot done for you, including user management and authentication.

There is talk at Dreamforce of the “app gap”, the fact that typical enterprises currently have most of their apps designed for the desktop, but are planning for most of their apps to be mobile. That gap is an opportunity for Salesforce 1.

Against that, note that apps built with Salesforce 1 are not portable to other platform, and there are the usual questions about the extent to which businesses are willing to entrust their business to a third-party cloud platform, and if so, which cloud platform is the best choice.

Is Salesforce 1 the same old stuff repackaged, or something new? It is a bit of each.

As an aside, the focus here on iOS and Android will not be helpful to Microsoft/Nokia trying to sell Windows Phone in the enterprise. You can also understand why Microsoft is partnering with Xamarin to enable its .NET, C# libraries to work on iOS/Android. If enterprises are going mobile and largely not using Windows Phone to do so, Microsoft has no choice but to give full support to those rival mobile platforms.

Salesforce 1 and the cloud platform wars

Salesforce has announced Salesforce 1, but what it is? Something new, or the same old stuff repackaged?


Even if it is something new, the ingredients are familiar. Salesforce 1, I have been told,  is a new brand over the Salesforce platform, though it does not replace individual components like Force.com or Heroku.

At heart, Salesforce is a multi-tenant cloud database and web services API, designed originally for CRM but easily adapted for other purposes, and easily extended by third-party partners with their own apps. If you review the components of Salesforce 1 you will find the same core platform and services as before.

If you want a quick overview of what makes up Salesforce 1, I recommend this list of platform services, including quick app development using browser-based tools, Heroku for code-centric development using Ruby, Java, Node.js or Python, web site development with site.com, a mobile SDK for iOS, Android or HTML5,  role-based user access management, private app portal, translation services, custom databases, social and collaboration services, reporting and analytics.

There is a new Salesforce 1 mobile app announced which you can customize. It only runs on iOS or Android; no support for Windows Phone.   

The Salesforce 1 proposition is that user identities are managed in the Salesforce database and that you build your cloud applications around them. Therefore the minimal Salesforce 1 product is One Enterprise App, at $25 per user/month, which gives you identity services (and a few others) and the app platform.

I would imagine that most Salesforce 1 customers will also use other Salesforce 1 products such as CRM or the Service Cloud. CRM, for example, runs from $5.00 per user/month for contact management to $300 per user/month for the Performance Edition, including the Service Cloud, workflow approval and unlimited custom apps. There is feature overlap between the various Salesforce products which may explain why the company encourages you to ask for a custom quote.

My immediate reflection on the Salesforce 1 announcement is that it is a cloud platform play. If you agree that the future of business IT is in cloud and mobile, then it follows that the future competitive landscape will be largely formed around the companies that offer cloud platforms. Large scale tends to win in the cloud, so for better or worse only a few companies will be able to compete effectively. Hence the cloud platform wars.

In this context, Amazon is strong on the app platform and cloud infrastructure side, but does not offer a complete enterprise platform, though recent announcements seem to me a move in that direction.

Google has immense scale and Android, but its strong focus on advertising and consumers perhaps hold back its enterprise offerings. If you run Android you are already hooked into Google’s identity platform.

Microsoft, perhaps oddly given its vast desktop legacy, seems to me a close competitor to Salesforce. Where Salesforce has CRM, Microsoft has Office 365, and where Salesforce has its own identity platform, Microsoft has Azure Active Directory. Apps for Office hook into SharePoint and Azure Active Directory in the same way Salesforce 1 apps hook into the Salesforce platform. There is no love between Salesforce and Microsoft, and constant sniping from Microsoft’s Dynamics CRM team. At the same time, there must be many businesses attracted to Office 365 for email and Office, and to Salesforce for CRM, which may lead to some difficult choices down the road. No wonder Salesforce is ignoring Windows Phone.