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Force.com + Google App Engine = Cloud Relationship Management

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Salesforce and Google have extended their strategic partnership with Force.com for Google App Engine, essentially bridging the two cloud-based application development environments.  App Engine applications, which are typically consumer apps, will be able to access enterprise data and services via the Force.com API.

The integration consists of a Python library, example code, and testing harness that allows App Engine apps to read and write to Force.com.  As an example, Salesforce executives demoed for me a hybrid application that combined a game interface built on App Engine that allowed visitors to Harrah’s website the ability to win additional points and upgrade their experience in the actual Las Vegas casino.

Only a month ago Salesforce announced a new Sites service, which allows Force.com customers to host not only internal Salesforce and App Force applications but the public-facing Web site. The App Engine integration combines consumer-facing apps built and hosted on the Google cloud with line-of-business data stored, accessed, and hosted on the Salesforce cloud. In essence, it’s the first federation between two clouds – or as CEO Marc Benioff might label it, CaaS, or Clouds as a Service.

This iterative approach to connecting cloud services reflects Google’s aggressive move from dominating search to owning greater and greater amounts of consumer interactions on the desktop. As Google extends its leverage to its own browser and perhaps an Internet operating system, the company will have captured user data at a personal level, released it via integrated APIs to corporate information and customer relationship management systems, and harvested a much fuller picture of transactions from initial search to final purchase.

Salesforce continues to follow the logic of its ongoing relationship with Google, which began with joint philanthropic efforts in 2003 and has accelerated with hooks to AdWords, Google Apps, OpenSocial, and the Google Data APIs. Google is not the only beneficiary of Salesforce’ attention; Facebook announced similar hooks between the two services at the recent DreamForce developer conference.

Interestingly, Facebook’s scaling of its social graph via Facebook Connect and scoped access to Facebook videos based on Facebook friend relationships mirrors App Engine access to Salesforce data, workflow, and application logic behind the enterprise firewall. While Microsoft moves to boil the WIndows ocean with Azure and Office online services from the enterprise outward, Salesforce and Google are moving bottom up from the consumer. It’s the new CRM – Cloud Relationship Management.

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