Salesforce Heroku Enterprise paves way for increased platform convergence

Heroku Enterprise gives customers new options for application development.

Salesforce has quietly announced the general availability of Heroku Enterprise in a move that gives companies invested in the company's software and Force.com platform new options and flexibility for developing applications.

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While Heroku continues to be positioned as a platform for creating consumer-facing web and mobile applications, the new version introduces features for security, identity and deployment that should have ample appeal among large enterprises with an existing Salesforce footprint. Here are the details from Salesforce's announcement:

Heroku Enterprise includes some key new capabilities: Private Spaces, Global Regions and Integrated Identity. Organizations with Private Spaces can now extend their corporate networks to take advantage of the cloud, running apps in a secure, private space with direct access to Salesforce's trusted infrastructure. Global Regions allow for deployment flexibility; with the ability to run apps and workloads in data centers closer to the customer, IT managers can now ensure faster response times and improved latency.

For developers and admins who already manage Salesforce deployments, Integrated Identity enables seamless single sign-on (SSO) into Heroku Enterprise. With provisioning applied across both Salesforce CRM and custom apps, IT now only has to manage one set of logins.

Private Spaces may be the most significant aspect of Heroku Enterprise. They provide a dedicated, private runtime for Heroku "dynos"--the company's preferred term for application containers, as Heroku's website notes:

One of the more powerful new features of Private Spaces is the control it provides over the networking layer, and the ability to restrict inbound access and outbound traffic origination for the applications that run inside it. Using network controls, Heroku applications can now be bound to other applications, VPNs, or even behind the firewall deployments.

At Last, Platform Convergence?

Last year, Salesforce brought all of its app-development technologies--including Force.com, Heroku and Lightning App Builder--together under the single brand of App Cloud. Lightning is a relatively new product that provides drag-and-drop app-development tools.

Force.com remains the company's main offering for building transactional business applications and is dependent on the productivity-boosting but proprietary Apex programming language. Heroku in contrast is a polyglot PaaS with support for Ruby, PHP, Java and other languages.

App Cloud was a bit of a belated move, particularly concerning Heroku -- which Salesforce purchased all the way back in 2010.

Since the deal, Salesforce seemed keen to avoid worrying or alienating Heroku's sizable developer community, allowing the company to run as a largely independent subsidiary. It wasn't until 2014 that Salesforce released Connect, which allows data to be transfered back and forth between Heroku's Postgres databases and Force.com. And even today, Heroku continues to use Amazon Web Services for its infrastructure, although that could certainly change.

Overall, Heroku Enterprise delivers much-needed features, says Constellation Research VP and principal analyst Holger Mueller.

"As security, privacy and statutory concerns remain a challenge for enterprises, it is good to see that PaaS vendors are providing higher level constructs," he says. "Salesforce and Heroku are no exception, so it's good to see the Private Spaces functionality go GA."

"Still, Salesforce keeps offering two separate PaaS ecosystems with Force.com and Heroku," Mueller adds. "Both address different use cases as well, but Salesforce has begun to find some synergies between the offerings, which will help customers."

Indeed, one would expect the features introduced by Heroku Enterprise, in particular for secure networking, should prompt many customers to either give Heroku a try, pursue hybrid Heroku and Force.com application development projects, or do both.

It also wouldn't be surprising if Salesforce comes up with some creative pricing and packaging options for customers who want to use both Heroku and Force.com.

CONSTELLATION INSIGHTS

Constellation Insights is an online news service published daily to advise members of the Insights community on the significance and implications of developments in enterprise technology.

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