A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post that garnered a fair amount of attention. In the post I talked about where I see PaaS developing and suggested that there would be a clear split between what I’ve called infrastructure PaaS (iPaaS) and application PaaS (aPaaS). It’s a concept that has grown on me in the past few weeks as I’ve discussed the theory with developers working in two distinct areas;

  • Those working with business units who are utilizing a highly declarative platform to create process-oriented solutions
  • Those creating standalone applications that want to avoid getting involved in systems administration

This approach is perfectly demonstrated by force.com and Heroku, two platforms from salesforce.com – one (force.com) that caters to the process-oriented needs of developers, the other (Heroku) that allows them to build standalone applications while forgetting about underlying infrastructure. It’s a concept that others are thinking about as shown in this excellent post by Dave McCrory.

Given this recent ruminating then, I was stoked to be able to take some time to sit down with Byron Sebastian, formerly the CEO of Heroku and now filling the dual roles of GM Heroku and SVP Platforms for salesforce. Unfortunately it was a tad windy down in Mission Bay so the audio quality of the video leaves a lot to be desired, however it is an interesting insight into how salesforce is thinking about it’s dual platforms.

When the Heroku acquisition was announced at DreamForce last year, many of us were parsing the deal from a perspective of integration between Heroku and force.com – after thinking about things recently I’ve started to think that we were coming to the issue from a simplistic perspective. Rather than needing a deep integration between Heroku and force.com, I believe salesforce has wisely identified these two distinct needs for PaaS and realizes that a dual play makes sense. So long as there is a degree of integration between the platforms to allow solutions, where necessary, to leverage the best aspects of both approaches, there is no real concern around keeping the two platforms distinct and separate – they both deliver specific requirements to two distinct use cases and customer types.

Sebastian discussed a bunch of things outside of this PaaS delineation (although his perspective on my theories is interesting to here). We also touched on the organizational issues for Heroku now that they’re part of the salesforce mothership. Not surprisingly Sebastian was very positive about how the combined organization works and the independence that salesforce allows Heroku to enjoy. He also pointed out he synergies that the combination brings, and the ability it offers Heroku to be having discussions with CIOs in organizations to whom they wouldn’t normally have access to an example of which is a recent partnership between Accenture and Heroku, something that would have been unlikely to occur before the acquisition.

I suggested to Sebastian that given the fact that salesforce now needs to answer he needs of two different customer types – the “suit and tie” business folks along with grass roots developers – that the necessity exists for events that tailor separately to both groups – I’d expect to see some specific developer focused events introduced from the Heroku side of the organization.

I’m looking forward to some exciting announcements rom Heroku in the months ahead – watch this space!

Video below of the interview – excuse the poor audio quality around the mid way point.

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

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