Marc Andreessen Feels the Force

The folks at Yankee Group have newly opined that "A future in which business applications and data can be accessed anywhere, at any time, on any device is within sight": that the prospect is "not a Buck Rogers, Star Trek, Star Wars thing," but one that is "happening…driven by need."

Obviously, salesforce.com considers the Force.com platform a major step toward that reality — and we’re inviting developers to come to San Francisco on January 17th for a free full-day event that will give our guests both the knowledge and the perspective to build on that foundation.

We’ll be joined on the 17th at San Francisco’s Palace Hotel by guest keynote speaker Marc Andreessen, co-founder and CTO of Ning Inc.  Marc’s role as one of the originators of the modern Web browser gives him a particular perspective on the next generation of platforms: a perspective that he’s shared in a widely quoted blog post, "The three kinds of platforms you meet on the Internet."

I should have called attention to Marc’s "three kinds" analysis, which was posted in September, long ago — because he provides an independent point of view on what a Web platform, properly speaking, ought to offer to developers. Boiled down to one key requirement, Marc says (and I agree) that "If you can program it, then it’s a platform.  If you can’t, then it’s not." Without the ability to define new behaviors, rather than merely stitching together a family of behaviors that have been predefined by a provider, it’s not a platform.

Marc goes far beyond that, though, with his definition of three levels of platform in which the features of a "Level 3 platform" — a runtime environment, integrated development tools, an integrated database environment and intrinsic security, to name a few — may sound familiar to anyone who’s looked in any depth at Force.com. Building a Level 3 platform, says Marc, is "a truly intense technical and business undertaking, and not for the faint of heart… The good news is that what it makes possible is magical."

The level of expertise required to develop on such a platform, says Marc, "drops by at least 90%" compared to less capable platforms, and "the level of money they need drops to $0.  Which opens up
development to a universe of people for whom developing on a Level 2 or
Level 1 platform is prohibitively difficult or expensive.
" (The emphasis is Marc’s, but I certainly don’t disagree.)

Please be with us on January 17th to learn more.

Published
January 7, 2008
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