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12/9/2010
01:21 PM
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Salesforce To Acquire Ruby App Hosting Service Heroku

Ruby applications currently run in Amazon's EC2 cloud, but one day may move to Force.com.

Slideshow: Amazon's Case For Enterprise Cloud Computing
Slideshow: Amazon's Case For Enterprise Cloud Computing
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Heroku founder Adam Wiggins explained in an April 12 InfoQ podcast that Heroku is described as a cloud service but "we have no physical servers. The day we started the company was the second beta launch of Amazon EC2... It worked so well, we never looked back."

It's likely some Ruby programmers who use the Heroku deployment service will be candidates to also use Salesforce's upcoming Database.com service. But many existing Heroku users have dependencies linked to EC2. Ruby programmers also like MySQL, so many Ruby applications have built-in calls to EC2's relational database service. They might move one day to Salesforce's Force.com platform, but such a transfer would have to be executed with migration tools that don't yet exist and assurances that everything would continue to work as before. There was no reference to such assurances at the user group show.

"They're doing amazing work, some of the best computer science I've ever seen. I thought -- this is amazing. If we buy this company, we can accelerate this whole industry, move the whole industry to Ruby," Benioff said. Salesforce.com stock rose sharply on the announcement. At the close of trading on the New York Stock Exchange, shares were trading at $150.58, up $5.34 or 3.7%.

Heroku CEO Byron Sebastian, who made a cameo appearance on stage, responded: "Together, we will provide the best place to run and deploy Cloud 2 apps. We believe this is the winning combination to bring cloud application platforms into the mainstream of the enterprise."

By invoking the company of Hulu, Twitter, and other popular existing Ruby applications, Benioff seemed to say that Salesforce.com was on the right side of the use of the new generation of "dynamic" languages, and will soon be hosting thousands of Ruby apps. Heroku currently serves as the deployment environment for 106,538 applications, as of Wednesday.

Heroku serves as both a Ruby development and deployment environment, solving multi-tenancy issues for application developers by managing a shared EC2 infrastructure. It supplies SSL encryption service, automated scaling up and down, and other services, while billing for monthly use.

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