Salesforce and Google integrate some more

Since the beginning of the year Salesforce’s Tour de Force event has been touring the world. The Tour de Force events are all about the Force.com platform as a service, leaving Salesforce’s CRM offering for discussion at the Dreamforce conference. Today’s stop on the tour was the home town stop of Silicon Valley so had a bit more importance to it. The Tour de Force is coming to Australia later in the year but dates haven’t been announced yet.

The keynote from CEO Mark Benioff was live blogged here by the new TechCrunchIT blog and is available to watch here.

The key announcement today was the Force.com Toolkit for Google Data API’s. Earlier in the year we saw the first steps of integration between Google and Salesforce with access to Google Docs from within Salesforce. This was supported by some 3rd party addons to help with user provisioning between both services and adding buttons within Salesforce to associate Google Docs with a particular account or contact or open Gmail when viewing a contact. At the time there were also new code examples on the Force.com wiki of using Google’s Data APIs.

So what makes today’s announcement different? The previous Google Data integration was using Google’s javascript API’s. Javascript operates client side and the browser was the middle man between Salesforce and Google data. Today’s announcement takes away the middle man and enables server to server communication between Salesforce and Google’s servers. This is being implemented by new methods in Salesforce’s server side Apex programming language.

The initial Google API’s available are:

  • Google Documents API
  • Google Calendar API
  • Google Spreadsheet API
  • Blogger API
  • Contacts API
  • Google Data Authentication

The Toolkit will expand to incorporate more of Google’s offerings and has been issued under the open source BSD license.

So what to make of this? From a technical point of view it’s cool, but we have had SOAP and REST integration between websites for a while. From an alliance point of view it’s about establishing a combined threat against Microsoft. Salesforce is a becoming a big player with market cap today of 8.75B (having just overtaken Sun Microsystems 8.71B). It’s a longer term move that won’t bring about immediate results. Salesforce serves big companies while Google’s enterprise offerings currently are more suited to small companies. This alliance is about working towards a convergence that might not be realised for another 2-3 years but would you want to be Microsoft when it is?