The Cloud, is it a platform or just more of the same?

I have been digging into the various “cloud” offerings on the net and trying to see if there is a common ground in this space and as usual it appears the usual players are making bets on their “cloud” offerings. When you start seeing sites like SalesForce.com, LinkedIn, Facebook, or API’s like Microsofts Azure, all using different technologies to provide applications within “their cloud” it quickly shows people are off in their own camps.   I have been reading up on the DeltaCloud (Many clouds. One API. No problem) which is attempting to solve this disparity with a wrapper approach. As long as you have a particular clouds “module” installed on the server, your code can connect to and participate in that cloud. The API’s seem to be very basic out of the gate but I think the direction is worth watching.  Amazon has a huge web presence and companies like Eucalyptus have even standardized on its API’s for their own back-end so it makes me wonder if there will be camps but not many camps in the end.

Using the same application programming interfaces (APIs) that Amazon deploys for its Amazon Web Services (AWS), Eucalyptus allows users to set up their own private clouds and move workloads among internal servers, or to and from AWS. The software is available both as free, open-source code and as a paid version. – PC World

Do we need the same for collaboration?  Open Social (Many sites, one API - sound familiar?) is suppose to fix that but it isn’t totally adopted by all players either.

A common API means you have less to learn to build for multiple websites. OpenSocial is currently being developed by a broad set of members of the web community. The ultimate goal is for any social website to be able to implement the API and host 3rd party social applications. – OpenSocial

If we really want a true cloud then there is going to have to be some level of common API, data model, and interfaces across the players otherwise developers and IT will be needed for the integration points.  As more and more stuff moves to the cloud you may see more and more job openings for “SalesForce.com developer” or “OpenSocial developer” or “AWS experience a plus”.

I think this is a frontier of opportunity for any IT person or developer – which is one of the reasons I love this industry.  It is forever changing and challenging.

Poll: Do you or your customers develop or use applications on salesforce.com?

I have been checking out developer.force.com this week and it is a pretty extensive cloud based solution for developing, deploying, and using applications in the cloud.  I checked out their Eclipse based development videos and the development environment looks pretty comprehensive.  I would like to hear if anyone who reads this blog has any real experiences they would like to share about it.  I am also interested to hear how many of my readers have real exposure to SalesForce.com.

If you use SalesForce.com in any manner, application use, develop for, deploy on, integrate with or any of the above please take some time to post your answer below and possibly a comment on your experiences.

If you are a Lotus customer I would like to hear how you integrate your XPages, Domino or Notes applications with SalesForce.com.

Thanks in advance!

[poll id=”14″]

VMForce.com looks interesting

I was actually researching the OpenSocial specification and did a Google search on what sites use OpenSocial.  To no surprise, there are clearly two camps here – Facebook and OpenSocial.  With the announcement of MS Office for Facebook you can clearly see the two camps that have been formed.  Check out an interesting slide presentation from Jawad Shuaib – yes it was posted quite some time ago but I think it is still somewhat relevant (you can also see it below).  One small point is that SalesForce.com supports OpenSocial and it is arguably an extremely successful product.  With the introduction of VMWare integrated with SalesForce.com services (vmforce.com) the development platform potential is amazing.  Check out the article written by Bernd Harzog where he outlines some of the speculations of what this will actually be.  A key attractive point from one developer (me) is this:

“Then how about if developers of Force.com applications are given the option of building these apps in the traditional SalesForce.com tools, or also via Spring, Groovy, and Grails (the SpringSource development tools). This would in the long term get SalesForce.com out of the developer tool business, which it probably does not want to spend money on in any case.”