There is no way to write one post to cover everything, so I want to address one thing that some people may not have noticed:
Salesforce Chatter is being pushed as a platform layer.
Looking at the “chiclet” slide that Marc Benioff unveiled, let’s start with the “old” slide:
Yes, this is not the exact slide, but getting a copy of the initial slide is proving difficult. We'll have to use this one from Dreamforce 2008 as a reference, and will need to imagine the rest.
- Notice that the bottom level is Infrastructure. This is the hardware that salesforce.com provides along with the promise that it will work properly. It is called Infrastructure as a Service, and there’s nothing new about that.
- On top of that is what we call the Force.com Platform. This includes Apex code, workflow, analytics, and Visualforce.
- And on top of that are the clouds: Service Cloud 2, Sales Cloud 2, and Custom Cloud.
However, the first new chiclet slide that Marc showed was misleading. The item with the big question mark was a cloud. And Chatter is not only a cloud.
Once Chatter was shown and demonstrated, the new chiclet slide did not just show it as a cloud. It was also shown as another platform layer. This is huge.
Chatter, clearly, is not just an application that sits on top of Salesforce CRM and the Force.com platform. (Examples of these are AppExchange apps like FinancialForce and even integration features like Google Docs for Salesforce.) Chatter is an integral part of the platform and will be a part of every customization. What does this mean? Just as with every custom object comes the ability to make Workflow and Validation Rules, with every custom object will come the ability to include Chatter features.
So let’s talk about the new slide. First, something negative:
From an IT perspective, we know that there are three levels to Software as a Service: Infrastructure as a Service, Platform as a Service, and Application as a Service. Where does Chatter fit in? I have no idea. In the Platform? No. Platform features are data-driven and can exist without a user-interface. In Infrastructure? Obviously not. So Chatter must be an Application. Obviously, salesforce.com is including Chatter as features in every application. But just because it is ubiquitous does not mean that it is a platform layer.
Now, something positive:
From a marketing perspective, nobody cares about the Service layers. Infrastructure? Platform? Application? All the people with money (CXOs) care about is what they’re going to get and what the product can do. If we look at the slide as a selling-tool, it’s perfect. It shows us features that are available across the board, in every object.
So my conclusion:
If I take off my developer hat, Chatter is a great feature that will help businesses run better. Sure, the slide is funny-looking, but it works.