Blog Posts

Goodbye Disk, Hello World

There are a few App Marketplaces worth mentioning including the Salesforce AppExchange, the Google App Marketplace, and even the Apple Apps Store that are changing the game for software sales and distribution.
Goodbye Disk, Hello World

App Marketplaces make it easy to install and deploy applications from the cloud.

As we often talk about on the CloudFocus Weekly podcast

App Marketplaces are taking over as distribution channels for applications. Think about the last time that you bought a software application on a disk and installed it on your computer. The last time I did that was with Microsoft Office, go figure it was a product out of Redmond. Aside from the dinosaur Office Suite I can't think of a time I needed anything but an internet connection and a license key to get started with an application. Of course I am not a "creative type" so I don't use high-end editing software but in reality not many other people do either, this is a select niche of users who need very focused applications. In the business world today many applications are productivity apps or communication apps which are used more broadly and by most any knowledge worker. In the world of cloud computing these apps are installed with clicks via an app marketplace as opposed to in the client server days when software was shipped to IT shops to be installed on servers and deployed across enterprise architectures.

 

Apps Delivered in a Click

 

iTunes changed the way that music and entertainment is distributed to consumers. Like iTunes, App Marketplaces have changed the way consumers browse, test drive, and ultimately purchase software. The key here is that the App Marketplace is a fully integrated environment where going from the purchase phase to the deployment phase is generally as easy as clicking a few buttons and following a configuration guide. Scalable applications being delivered on an integrated and secure platform makes for game changing results. In the old world of Client Server computing an IT department would have to build out massive environments to test out new applications for integration, security, and scalability. Once an environment was built out they would configure the application for a use case or two all in a sandbox. Think about the time that was burned building out this environment just to throw it all away once they want to move the application to production. With App Marketplaces IT shops can click a few links to install apps into their cloud environments and deploy in a much more rapid fashion resulting in much better time to market and ROI. Not to say that you wouldn't want to install and test the new app in a sandbox but all the work you do is not wasted since it's the same version of the App that you would eventually install in your production environment therefore you can just push it over when it's configured and you are ready to roll.

 

Wisdom of the Crowds

 

Another secret sauce that App Marketplaces have borrowed from the consumer web is Ratings and Reviews. Much like Amazon.com

uses customer ratings and reviews to help other customer's make informed decisions, so do the App Marketplaces for cloud apps. Just use intuitive searching tools to look for the type of application you need and read about what other customer's experiences have been like. If you read that an application has a bad rating and has a few bad reviews you are likely to skip over that one and go to the next one - a really easy way to get to the best option for you. You like what you read and a few clicks later you are off and running with a test drive. A real-time playground for you to see what the functionality of the application is like with your own two eyes all without having to stand-up a server and test integration capabilities.

 

Risks and Rewards

 

Thusfar I have taken the very positive view that the App Marketplace is a revolutionary new way to distribute and install software (or services). In reality there are some risks that should be considered whenever you are looking to use a service from one of the aforementioned marketplaces. For example, if you have very stringent security requirements and have already vetted Salesforce.com for example as a platform for use by your company then using an AppExchange product that keeps all of your data within the Force.com

platform is absolutely fine, but, if the application you are installing is sending data to their own server farm then you must consider the security ramifications of having your data flow to a service that you haven't yet given the stamp of approval to. It's all about how you weigh out the risk and reward, the reward is obviously faster implementation and integration, the risks are data security and potential of using a service that isn't up to snuff with your standards. Always be aware of where your data is residing and make sure that it meets your documented standards.

 

If you want to discuss App Marketplaces with me further feel free to comment on this post on our Facebook Page or tweet me at www.twitter.com/justedelstein.  

 

Cloud Companies Making Giving Back as Easy as Their Technology

Read how Google and Salesforce.com made giving back easy during this holiday season and why companies should follow suit.
Cloud Companies Making Giving Back as Easy as Their Technology

How easy it can be!

    Throughout my life I have always tried to find time to give back to the community. Since I have dedicated my career to efficiency, it always bothered me that most of the charities I donated my time to were inefficient. There always seemed to be wasted time on process and procedures that could of been spent on actually making a difference. In the last month however I got participate in two really forward thinking organizations and how they made giving back easy and efficient.

    Dreamforce '10 - Stop Hunger Now

    Most people involved with Salesforce.com know about Marc Beniof's 1/1/1 corporate philanthropy model and how Salesforce.com is very focused on giving back to the community. For the newbies, Salesforce.com gives 1% of their product, 1% of their time and 1% of their equity to qualified 501(c)3 organizations and NGO's with their own foundation. As part of their corporate DNA they dedicate a large portion of Dreamforce to promoting and evangelizing philanthropy. This year the Dreamforce '10 organizers brought the charitable activities into the conference by placing stations inside the Moscone Center. One of stations to donate time was Stop Hunger Now, an international hunger relief organization that coordinates the distribution of food and other life-saving aid around the world. In the limited time I participated, I was able to make about 40 meals to be distributed to needy people around the world. It was an amazing experience and took all of one minute to learn what I needed to do and get going. In just twenty minutes, I felt I made a difference.

    Google Chrome for a Cause Extension

    Google launched an extension last week to help raise money and awareness in addition to promoting their browser. During last week, for each tab you opened in Google Chrome a donation would be made to a charity. At the end of the day, you could allocate which charities you wanted your "tabbed" donation to fund. Google raised over one million dollars in this effort and promoted charities around the world. Making a difference with a click of a mouse, what a great concept.

    Future of Philanthropy

    Both Salesforce.com and Google have set a standard as to how all companies could run their philanthropic efforts. Could you imagine what could be done for causes if all companies adopted these models? I hope exisiting organizations take notice how these programs made it so easy for people to participate and promote. I know everything can't be as simple as clicking a mouse but if organizations spent some time on how to make their process simple, I think it would go a long way.

    Happy Holidays! 

 

Why So Many Clouds? A Dreamforce '10 Reaction

After spending a week in San Francisco for the Salesforce.com User and Developer Conference Dreamforce I have some questions around the strategy of the Salesforce.com platform - mainly, why so many clouds?
Why So Many Clouds? A Dreamforce '10 Reaction

How many clouds are too many clouds?

For years Salesforce.com has been building up their brand as the leading cloud computing Platform as a Service. As part of their strategy they have always displayed the platform in swim-lanes with little chick-lets representing different parts of their platform. This swim-lane always had their products or clouds at the top including Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, Force.com, and most recently Chatter Collaboration Cloud. These four clouds worked - it was concise, understandable, and all of the functionality within the chick-lets below fit within these four product lines.


Muddying The Waters

 

At Dreamforce '10 Salesforce muddied the waters by adding four new clouds to the top of the swim-lane chart. Some were logical like Jigsaw Data Cloud and Database.com but others didn't make a whole lot of sense to me - the Heroku Cloud and the Remedyforce Cloud don't seem like clouds that should be on the top level of the Salesforce.com

branding/platform stack - they seem to be squeezed in to the chart in the wrong area.

The Heroku Cloud is an acquisition of a Ruby development platform that lives in the cloud. This is a nice acquisition for Salesforce because it opens up their platform to even more developers and yet another language, but, shouldn't Ruby development be just a chick-let within the Force.com platform? Why it's own cloud on the top of the PaaS Pyramid? The Force.com platform should be the most important item on the chart with all functionality or products that fall under it, not be an equal to another development platform that happens to run within Force.com.


False Cloud? No. Too Many Clouds? Yes.

 

For my money the worst offender is the Remedyforce or the Remedy cloud because this just seems like a product that BMC software built and sold to Salesforce. Doesn't this belong in the Appexchange? It seems to dilute the value of having something called ISVforce for partners if you are just going to buy a product that a large software company built. I understand that it proves the viability of the

Force.com platform but isn't the point of having the platform and an app marketplace to encourage independent developers to develop their product on the platform and sell it themselves? I just don't understand why Salesforce would go this route of purchasing an app and not even rebranding it in any way shape or form like they did with Ideas and Content; and to make matters worse, put it on the top of their platform chart with it's own cloud. Remedy might be a great product for internal IT organizations but couldn't BMC just sell it on the Appexchange? Next thing you know every large partner of Salesforce will get their own cloud on top of the branding chart. Soon there will be more clouds then chick-lets and the whole message will be diluted.


Keep It Simple

 

To me the reason why Salesforce has been successful is that their messaging has been simple. You subscribe to a Platform as a Service and you get these things below in the chart according to your level of licensing. You want to use the Sales Cloud and build a custom app - go for it; you want to use the Service Cloud and tack on Chatter - go right ahead. Now though, with all these clouds on the top of the chart, I'm not even sure where to start...and it's my job to know these things! I guess I will be studying up like always after a Dreamforce.

If you want to talk more about the Clouds and how many there are feel free to comment on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/arkusinc or send a tweet to me at www.twitter.com/JustEdelstein.

 

Dreamforce '10 T-Shirt Giveaway

We are having a little giveaway of some t-shirts we had made up for Dreamforce 10, read on for what you have to do to get your own.
Dreamforce '10 T-Shirt Giveaway

Safe Harbor T-Shirt by Arkus

We have been joking for years about the Safe Harbor statement that Salesforce.com puts up at the beginning of every presentation saying how it would make a great t-shirt. This year we turned the joke into reality and came up with the "Safe Harbor T-shirt" featuring the Arkus logo on the front and the a play on the safe harbor slide on the back with "Have You Seen Me?" written underneath. An inside joke for sure, but hopefully funny enough to wear to the gym or get a laugh at this years event.

The Giveaway

We at Arkus got these t-shirts made up for ourselves, but thought it might fun to give a few extras away so we created a social scavenger hunt game as a way to put some fun into it. All you have to do is complete the following tasks and show up to get your very own t-shirt, limited supplies so first come, first serve. No purchase necessary, void where prohibited.

Social Scavenger

  1. Follow @ArkusInc on twitter
  2. Like Arkus, Inc on Facebook
  3. Join the "Arkus T-Shirt Contest Group" in the Dreamforce portal
  4. Listen for the secret word in episodes 20 and 21 of CloudFocus Weekly podcast
  5. Collect your t-shirt in the dining area, at lunch on Tuesday December 7th

We will have a printed sheet with all of the people in the "Arkus T-Shirt Contest Group" and will verify that you made it through the social scavenger hunt and will hand you a t-shirt once you tell us the secret word that you heard during episode 20 or 21 of the CloudFocus Weekly podcast. Again, limited supplies so first come first serve.

Extra credit goes to anyone who leaves a raving review of the podcast in iTunes.

Hope to see you at Dreamforce in your new t-shirt.

Spreadsheet Wars! Microsoft Excel for Mac 2011 versus Goggle Spreadsheets

A comparison of the newest version of Excel for Mac and Google spreadsheets with a few tips for users of the Salesforce.com APEX dataloader.
Spreadsheet Wars!  Microsoft Excel for Mac 2011 versus Goggle Spreadsheets

I love spreadsheets, but which one?

I always was an Excel guy when it came to spreadsheets but recently I was introduced to Google spreadsheets and began using them with some of our clients. I also recently got my hands on the latest version of Excel for Mac and thought it might be a good idea to do a little comparison. So here it goes, and for you Salesforce.com APEX Dataloader users, look for a few tips!

Speed Test

The old version of Excel for Mac was super slow. It would literally take 10 seconds to boot up. I started to use Google spreadsheets to do some quick work based soley on speed. Though Google is based on how well your internet connection is it still was way faster then opening Excel. In Excel 2011, 1 click on the icon and I am up and running in a second. The speed doesn't stop there, the calculations are much faster as well. So since Excel is an installed application, I have to give the leg up to Excel.

Look and Feel

The worst thing Microsoft did to the newer versions of Excel was take away the formula toolbar in the menu. Well hallelujah, it's back! That toolbar being as a floater literally wasted hours of my time. Google Spreadsheets have a pretty classic Excel look to it which holds close to my heart. Google gets the leg up here for 2 reasons. First, most people don't need anymore then the formula bar and drop-down menu which in Excel's case, can get a bit overwhelming when all that is displayed. Secondly, even though Excel put the formula bar back, I'm still bitter that they removed it in the first place!

Collaboration

Google wins hands down on this topic. I can easily share spreadsheets with clients and colleagues in real time and truly collaborate with them. Excel is not even close, even though they say they can in their awful "To the cloud" commercials. Google spreadsheets can be shared and viewed with 2 things, an internet connection and an email address. That simple.

Functionality

From a functionality perspective, I go with Excel but that is based on the type of work I use it for. I don't think Google's first intent was to tackle the hardcore Excel users or programmers for that matter. Google provides all the same standard functionality that a regular spreadsheet user should need like standard calculation formulas. I have used Excel for years and years and from a functionality perspective, I get more. I cannot live without the "text to columns" feature and for you Salesforce.com dataloaders, this is a great way to correct formatting issues. Curious, shoot us an email and I will gladly provide more details!

Conclusion

All in all both are great spreadsheet tools and the release of Excel for Mac 2011 makes me very happy. Google docs are good but for now, I will use them for collaboration purposes only. I love Google, so in a way, I guess I challenge you to take me from my Excel island that I love so dear...

Salesforce.com Dataloader Tip #2: For data migration with complex owner hierarchy, use a master spreadsheet to hold all your ID's and then Vlookup formulas to pull them in.