October 26, 2009, 9:01 PM — Salesforce.com's deal with Adobe Systems linking Adobe Flash to the Salesforce.com Force.com cloud application platform could help better establish Force.com as an entity separate from the company's core online CRM platform.
Announced Monday, the deal involves provision of a unified development environment, Adobe Flash Builder for Force.com, for more easily deploying Flash applications on Force.com. The environment is expected to be used for applications to extend Salesforce.com CRM applications, to build business applications or Web sites and to build desktop applications that can run outside of a browser.
[ See InfoWorld's report on Adobe's own cloud services. ]
"We think this will drive a wider [use] of Force.com," said Eric Stahl, director of product marketing at Salesforce.com. The three-year-old Force.com platform currently has 63,000 customers who have built 120,000 applications.
A current user of Force.com agreed. The Adobe endeavor "will widen a lot of eyes around what Force.com can do," said Adam Wiebe, managing partner with Infowelders, which offers a hosted professional services application on Force.com that is not tied to the Salesforce.com CRM application. The company also provides its Infowelders Revenue Heat Map on the Salesforce.com AppExchange online application store. Revenue Heat Map is linked to the Salesforce.com CRM system and visualizes past and future revenues.
The Adobe-Salesforce.com arrangement calls for using Flash on the front end of the application and Salesforce.com's Apex programming language on the back end. Developers could access the Force.com database. They also would use Adobe Flash development technologies including MXML and ActionScript.
An Adobe official sees the deal with Salesforce.com as a way to make Force.com more mainstream. Force.com, said Dave Gruber, group manager with the Adobe platform business unit, has been well-respected by Salesforce.com users but has had a lack of visibility and a lack of tooling for deploying applications to the cloud.
"This solution provides a very mature tool offering," Gruber said.
"This will open up a new audience for the Force.com [platform]," which would be the Adobe Flex developer base, he said. The Flex framework is part of the Flash platform. Gruber said he sees applications being built ranging from mobile workforce applications to inventory management and supplier and manufacturing-related applications.
"The other big use case of this offering will be for the Salesforce.com installed base to add rich data visualization to their applications and extend those applications with richer workflow," said Gruber.