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9/18/2012
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Salesforce.com's Heroku Expands To Host Java Development

Salesforce.com's independent cloud unit, Heroku, seeks to link core CRM and enterprise Java applications. Until now, they've been worlds apart.

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Salesforce.com's Heroku cloud unit is expanding its charter. In the past it's been a platform for hosting development that primarily uses Web-oriented languages, such as Ruby, Node.js, Scala, or Perl. It's now expanding its ability to serve as an enterprise development platform by hosting Java development.

The move is a part of a bid by Salesforce.com to get its core applications to work with more of the software already in the modern enterprise. Salesforce offers its own Force.com platform where developers may work in the VisualForce user interface and Apex proprietary language, both of which could be used to customize Salesforce CRM or build custom apps. But they weren't enterprise developers' first choice for new development.

At Dreamforce, the annual Salesforce.com customer show in San Francisco, the firm is slated Wednesday to launch Heroku Enterprise for Java, or platform-as-a-service for Java developers, which will immediately be available from the Salesforce.com Heroku unit.

The move is puzzling to long-term Salesforce observers because, on the face of it, it doesn't achieve greater enterprise integration with existing Salesforce.com core CRM applications or existing Force.com applications. Both core CRM and Force.com are hosted in Salesforce.com's own data centers. Heroku, on the other hand, serves developers by providing a platform for development on top of the Amazon Web Services cloud. But stay tuned.

[ Want to learn more about how Salesforce.com has provided limited development options in the past? See Salesforce Keeps Tight Control On Cloud Development. ]

At Dreamforce Wednesday, Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff and fellow speakers will announce a new identity management service that will allow users of applications in a Salesforce data center to interact with applications running on the Heroku cloud. The two will remain separate, but shared identity management and other new services will allow applications to connect and interact.

"They remain separate clouds, but the area of overlap between them is increasing," said Jesper Joergensen, senior director of the Heroku Enterprise for Java product.

Java developers who wish to use the development platform will be able to use the Eclipse programmers' workbench with its open source integrated development environment. They'll be able to use their preferred development tools, but when they import the code to Heroku, it will handle application server, database server, Web server, and scaling issues.

"You don't have to change any of your preferred methods of development," said Joergensen.

At the same time, Heroku spokesmen are positioning Heroku Enterprise for Java as an agile and continuous development platform, where an application may be deployed and frequently updated, even though it's a production system. Deployment and application management products for such an approach will be supplied by a partner, Atlassian, which makes the Bamboo deployment platform for Java applications.

Oren Teich, COO of the Heroku business unit, said the Java platform will be priced at $1,000 per month per production application. When asked whether that meant development was free on the platform, he cautioned that continuous development attempts to erase the line between development and operations. An application being built according to the tenets of continuous development will go into a production environment as soon as parts of it can be pressed into service. The code will be updated frequently as development continues, and in effect, development never stops as the application evolves to match business needs. But that would be a discussion Heroku has with its new Java customers as they bring workloads to the system, he said.

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