Today, salesforce.com and Google announced a new toolkit to link Force.com applications to Google Apps. Now, Appirio already has five commercial applications that connect Google Apps and Salesforce.com. That's more than any other vendor, and three of our apps - Calendar Sync, CRM Dashboards, and Doc Search - rank in the top ten of all AppExchange downloads.
In the "old world" of on-premise software, this new toolkit might be viewed as a threat to Appirio's product portfolio. If any developer can now easily link up Salesforce.com and Google Apps, who needs Appirio's products?
In truth, though, we think it's great. Appirio was involved in early usage and validation of the new toolkit. We embedded it into a cool new Visualforce demo that will be shown in the keynote address of today's Tour De Force event in Santa Clara, and augmented our current product offerings with it. Our viewpoint is that basic connectivity does not, by itself, hold intrinsic value, but it's an essential ingredient in creating value.
My former employer, webMethods, made hundreds of millions of dollars essentially by connecting SAP and other ERP systems to one another, sitting on top of the basic connectivity provided by the vendors. By providing this toolkit, salesforce.com and Google will make it easier for innovators to build new and powerful business scenarios that weren't possible before.
With just a few lines of code - six, to be precise - we were able to bring Google calendar data onto a custom Visualforce page (view demo).
We're seeing lots of steps towards integrating the cloud. Salesforce orgs can now connect to one another, via S2S, announced earlier this year. Appirio connected salesforce.com with Amazon S3 via our Appirio Cloud Storage product. In the on-premise world, ubiquitous connectivity really wasn't possible. But in the SaaS world, on the Internet, information can be connected in a scalable way, allowing even small ISVs to create commercial-grade innovative solutions. We hope other vendors' SaaS platforms, either directly or through partners like Appirio, will bake in basic connectivity to one another. This lets us focus on solving problems that have vexed developers in the enterprise for years.
The rapidly increasing web of links among major SaaS vendors is starting to create a business-specific version of the "World Wide Computer" Nick Carr talks about in The Big Switch. If all of your business applications, living in the cloud, could freely collaborate, their collective intelligence would begin to outstrip what any single system could deliver.