As a developer I was only involved in developing and architecting software. “Distribution” in my world was creating all those WARs and EARs and handing them off to someone who actually did the distribution, installation and so on. In our cloud, this installation and distribution is pretty much just clicking the install button.
Of course, not everyone has to package or distribute applications. You may simply be building an extension to an existing app, or developing something only for your company. But I think there’s a flip side to this. Packaging is not that difficult either – so if you’re developing something for internal use, you could ask “would other folk find this useful too?” If the answer is yes, well then you could package it. Even market it and sell it, something many ISV folk in the SaaS world do.
Packaging and Distribution
As part of the Core Resources, we’ve just published an article I wrote on packaging: An Introduction to Packaging.
It does what is says on the tin, and walks you through a simple packaging exercise (and installation), and also points out the two different types of packaging (unmanaged, managed) and some of the more advanced topics (license management). I hope you find it useful!
So now you have a packaged application (I’m assuming a managed application that you want to sell). What now? Well, Force.com AppExchange is next. As I write in the article:
A user of your packaged application will be a user of the Force.com platform, so it makes sense for there to be a central directory of applications, making it easy to share, find and install applications with the rest of the salesforce.com community building on the platform. Enter Force.com AppExchange. It’s an on-demand application directory service from that allows you to browse, install, and share apps and components built for the Force.com platform.
Force.com Checkout (Pilot)
That’s half the battle. Now all existing (and future 😉 ) customers can find apps that you’ve built. Now what? Well that’s where the recently announced aptly-named Force.com Checkout, comes in. Any existing customer, once they’ve found your app, can buy it online in a few clicks and have it automatically provision into their org.
Checkout is in pilot – you can click here to join.
A Perspective: From SaaS to SaaS
Another way to look at this (I think), is that the greater “platform” (and I’m abusing the term a little here) not only provides you the facilities with which to create and package and distribute applications, but also list and sell them too – handling all the sales, transactions and payments.
Although this is financial, not technical, I still find this kinda neat. If you’re developing software that is to be sold, or that can be sold, this closes the loop – allowing you to do everything in the cloud.
From SaaS (software as a service) to SaaS (sales as a service)?
Update: (2008-December-19) – there is more on the App Exchange Blog.