Salesforce.com to acquire Ruby development platform in Heroku

Heroku provide developers a Cloud-based platform for developing applications on the Ruby development language.

SAN FRANCISCO -- A day after announcing plans to release a cloud-based database in 2011, Salesforce.com today extended its application development capabilities, announcing its intention to acquire Heroku, a cloud-based development platform for Ruby-based applications, for $212 million.

Salesforce will pay $212 million for Heroku, based just blocks from the Salesforce.com offices in San Francisco. Heroku currently hosts 105,000 Ruby-developed applications on its platform, a growth spurred by the platforms openness, said Byron Sebastian, CEO of Heroku.

Gartner predicts there will be 4 million Ruby developers by 2013.

"There's so much frustration out there for what it takes to get apps deployed, change them, quickly scale up them, scale them down," Sebastian said at the Dreamforce conference being held here this week. "With the Cloud you have a giant opportunity to change the development model. Heroku is designed for developers. It gives developers the tools, the technology they're comfortable with, they're used to and delivers those technologies in a way that's optimized for the cloud."

When Salesforce.com rolled out its own development language, Apex, it was based on Java, yet still proprietary. Earlier this year, Salesforce.com partnered with VMware to create VMforce to attract the roughly 6 million Java developers and 2 million SpringSource developers. Salesforce.com has learned since then that its platform needed to be more open, CEO Marc Benioff said.

"We've been somewhat myopic; we haven't listened closely enough to our customers, 'Your platform is too proprietary. It needs to open up,'" he said. "How do we give our customers more capabilities, more support. Java is exciting for 6 million developers. Maybe there's more to do. How can we extend Force.com? We wanted to add Ruby, Ruby on Rails."

Ruby on Rails is an open source framework for developing Ruby applications, "the language of Cloud2," Benioff said. It is well suited for social and mobile application development.

"This is our dream," Benioff said. "Having Java has really helped us, but I can't imagine a better addition for all of our developers."

The addition of Heroku and Database.com to Salesforce.com's other cloud offerings, Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, Collaboration Cloud and others, is starting to add up.

"The price point is huge. We don't need seven clouds," said Esteban Kolsky, principal and founder of ThinkJar LLC, a CRM consultancy. "That's the enterprise software model. They're walking away from the platform and becoming an apps vendor."

ITSM on demand

Salesforce.com also extended an existing relationship with BMC Software, the maker of Remedy IT service desk software, to bring the Remedy application to the Force.com platform. RemedyForce will replace Service Desk on Force.com and be jointly sold and supported by Salesforce.com and BMC.

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