What I Love About Heroku

I am thrilled to be writing here about Heroku, a company we have signed a definitive agreement to acquire by January 31st

When I first met Orion Henry, James Lindenbaum and Adam Wiggins, co-founders of Heroku, I saw in them and in their language a reflection of myself, Dave Moellenhoff and Frank Dominguez when we started salesforce.com. They talked about simplicity and iteration. Of following standards rather than defining them. Of sharp tools built by small, agile teams. And that producing more code was actually a bad thing. Most of all I saw the potential of their ideas, their technology and their energy – the same gut feeling I had when we started salesforce.com.

In our case, our vision was to make a web-based salesforce automation app, and to prove that business web apps can be as easy to use as Amazon.com.  Among our strong beliefs was that multi-tenancy would be a defining architectural characteristic of successful cloud apps, and that providing our applications 100% as a service – no software to install or upgrade – was the way all applications would one day be delivered.  Also core to us was the idea of doing it smart and doing it right, because we felt everything we did was a foundation to a much broader future.  And we had a mantra we repeated all the time, and still do — “customer success”.

I see a lot of parallels with Heroku.  They have a clear vision of a Ruby cloud platform as a service that makes the development, deployment and hosting of apps incredibly simple and obvious and yet at the same time unbelievably powerful.  Their strong beliefs on multi-tenancy and the manifest destiny of cloud computing are very similar to ours. And their almost religious commitment to doing it smart and doing it right was apparent to me in the way they architected their service. They have a purity of vision and architecture that is enviable.

But most of all, it was Heroku’s dedication to their developers – the customers of their service — that impressed me.  They were clearly application developers themselves, who understood the needs and desires of Ruby app devs in a direct and visceral way.  Their website, the way they communicated with developers, and their product itself was pitch perfect. Their culture and their platform embraces openness and choice for developers, and the proof is nowhere more apparent than their Add-on Program, which provides developers with a rich set of third-party services and extensions that are tightly and sensibly integrated into the Heroku developer experience. This was a platform as a service that I would have wanted to build apps on if it had existed in 1999.

So to be able to acquire Heroku is just an amazing opportunity. Our goal is to simply take the Heroku vision and mission and to fuel and accelerate it’s success. Heroku will continue to be Heroku. And more..

I see many ways that salesforce.com can help Heroku execute on its ultimate developer-centric platform as a service vision, and in fact achieve that vision faster.  And I see many ways that Heroku’s open vision, and developer-centric culture can be a massively positive influence on the future of salesforce.com.

If you have not tried Heroku, you should. Just sign up online. It’s easy. And it’s free. You can build apps completely locally, and deploy them when ready to the cloud. Heroku does everything from there. Scale. Monitoring. Backup & recovery. Everything.

December 8, 2010

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What I Love About Heroku