On May 25, Salesforce announced its selection of Amazon Web Services as its preferred public cloud infrastructure provider. The designation of AWS as its preferred public cloud vendor consolidates its long-standing relationship with Amazon Web Services and facilitates the global expansion of “core services” such as the Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, App Cloud, Community Cloud and Analytics Cloud. Additionally, credible reports indicate that Salesforce plans to spend roughly $400M on Amazon Web Services. Currently, Heroku, Marketing Cloud Social Studio, SalesforceIQ, and the Salesforce IoT Cloud run on the Amazon Web Services public cloud. The deepening of the relationship between Salesforce and Amazon Web Services marks a huge coup for AWS insofar as it underscores its ability to court the enterprise for computing services for critical and everyday business operations. The partnership between Salesforce and AWS also indicates decreased reliance on Oracle hardware on the part of Salesforce and presages a more profound infrastructure transformation away from Oracle-based datacenters toward the AWS cloud.
IBM has announced plans Salesforce implementation consulting firm Bluewolf. The acquisition of Bluewolf allows IBM to tap into Bluewolf’s leadership in the Salesforce implementation space as a means of expanding its cloud consulting practice, specifically as it relates to Salesforce.com. Bluewolf will join IBM’s Interactive Experience practice within IBM Global Business Services. New York-based Bluewolf was founded in 2000 and has delivered services related to Salesforce since 2002, as reported in The Wall Street Journal. IBM’s acquisition of one of the industry’s leading Salesforce.com consulting partners illustrates the multi-valence of IBM’s strategy with respect to growing its cloud business. By augmenting its reputation for delivering consulting services to enterprise and government customers of Salesforce through the acquisition of Bluewolf, IBM stands to strengthen its position as a leader in cloud consulting professional services more generally. The acquisition is expected to be finalized in the second quarter of 2016. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed but re/code reports that the purchase price was roughly $200M.
Salesforce is set to announce details of Wave, an analytics and business intelligence product which it will formally reveal at its Dreamforce conference this week. Wave provides Salesforces users with data visualization functionality for data stored in Salesforce and elsewhere and, as such, constitutes a crucial addition to the Salesforce portfolio given that it had previously depended on partnerships with business intelligence vendors to enable its customers to run analytics and visualizations of their data. Wave builds on Salesforce’s acquisition of EdgeSpring last year given that EdgeSpring provides “search-indexing capabilities for Wave” as told to Anna Rosenman, Salesforce’s Director of Cloud Analytics, in an interview with VentureBeat. Wave represents a critical addition for Salesforce and promises to change the landscape of Customer Relationship Management platforms (CRM) loaded with analytics tools by revitalizing the ability of Salesforce to play in the hotly contested space of analytics and data visualization. The Wave mobile app for Apple iOS will be available this week as Salesforce reinvents in recognition of the ascendancy of cloud-based predictive analytics, data visualization and machine learning platforms.
Salesforce.com announced plans to acquire ExactTarget for $2.5 billion in what represents the biggest acquisition in Salesforce’s history. The deal comes less than 12 months after Salesforce acquired Buddy Media for $680 million. Under the terms of the deal, Salesforce will pay $33.75 a share, or 53% more than the ExactTarget closing share price on Monday of $22.10. Salesforce noted that the acquisition is expected to increase fiscal 2014 revenue by $120 or $125 million, and correspondingly reduce adjusted earnings by 16 cents per share.
ExactTarget is used by over 6000 companies to manage email marketing, text messages and social media camapagins, including the likes of Nike, Coca Cola and Gap. Its acquisition enables Salesforce to offer customers a more comprehensive marketing platform in contrast to Buddy Media and Radian 6, another of its recent acquisitions. Buddy Media specializes in social media marketing and Radian 6 focuses on understanding what is said in social media platforms. CEO Marc Benioff commented on the magnitude of the deal’s size and the broad scope of ExactTarget’s product line by noting:
We can’t just keep making these small acquisitions. That strategy was just taking honestly too long. We needed to do something of consequence and we needed to do something strategic and we needed to do something now.
Shares of similar companies within the email automation and marketing automation space rose upon news of the acquisition, with Responsys closing at $10.53 a share, up 8.78%. Constant Contact shares closed at 15.76 a share, up 5.14%. Privately held Act-On, an integrated marketing vendor that delivers a comprehensive automated marketing solution featuring SEO, integrated Google Analytics support and analysis of search histories, reacted to the news of the acquisition with the following remarks from Act-On CEO Raghu Raghavan:
Marketing software is undeniably one of the hottest markets right now and can be attributed in part to the fact that more CMOs are purchasing marketing-related technology and services from their own capital and expense budgets…All of the recent activity over the past year in the marketing automation space with Oracle’s acquisition of Eloqua, and then last month’s news of Marketo’s IPO are validation of this red hot space that Act-On is operating in. To think that only 5% of the market has been penetrated leaves green fields for marketing software vendors to innovate, expand and grow. This is only the beginning of a long and prosperous road for marketing automation.
The key point Raghavan makes here is that Chief Marketing Officers are increasingly purchasing technology for marketing from their own budgets as opposed to IT, with the result being that the marketing automation is space is exploding as CMOs experiment with different vendors and types of analytics. In December 2012, for example, Oracle acquired Eloqua for $871 million, or $23.50 per share. According to The Wall Street Journal, Salesforce paid 5.5 times the 2014 forecasted revenue price of ExactTarget, less than the 6.1 multiple of forward revenue that Oracle paid for Eloqua. Shares of ExactTarget closed up 52.4% on Tuesday at $33.69 a share, whereas shares of Salesforce declined 7.89% to $37.80. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff celebrated the finalization of the acquisition but noted that the company was likely to take a “vacation from M&A for anywhere between probably 12 and 18 months.”
San Franciso-based Sauce Labs has been recommended by Adobe after the latter recently announced it was closing its BrowserLab testing platform for web applications. Adobe’s affirmation of Sauce Labs underscores its success with a use case for IaaS infrastructures different from the remote hosting of applications on outsourced infrastructure, namely, IaaS for testing and development purposes. Sauce Labs uses virtual machines to provide customers with over 100 combinations of browsers and platforms for the testing of web-based applications. The company’s SaaS software empowers enterprises to conduct detailed evaluations of the testing process by way of screenshots, video recordings and support for the Firebug plug-in for Mozilla Firefox.
Sauce Labs further enables customers to conduct testing for applications on browsers for mobile devices such as iPads, iPhones and Androids. The Sauce Labs virtualized testing infrastructure platform allows customers to perform A/B and multivariate testing across a wide range of browser-platform permutations while benefiting from the security and integrity of its virtualized environment. Because each virtual machine is newly spun up and created for each testing instance, customers can rest assured that their tests are free both of cookies and traces of their applications for other customers.
As the world becomes more mobile and online interactions increasingly move to specialized applications, it’s increasingly important that these apps perform and meet consumer demands. Testing these apps has been a slow and difficult process, often done manually by teams using physical devices. Automated testing enabled by Appium represents the future, and Appium written in Node.js represents the best course toward ensuring the code continues to evolve as needs change.
The screenshot below illustrates a sample testing scenario for Everest, an iOS application tested using Appium on Sauce:
Appium reorients Sauce Labs squarely toward iOS mobile applications in a move that renders Sauce Labs the de facto cloud-based testing infrastructure for all platforms and programming languages. Its cloud-based platform for automated testing of machine and mobile apps is used by developers and enterprises alike, with Salesforce.com representing one of Sauce Labs’s prominent customers and investors. Given how customers in agile development environments iteratively tweak and add to branches of existing code, Sauce Labs’s cloud-based testing technology lies at the heart of the DevOps and continuous integration movement in application lifecycle management. Users should expect cross-platform cloud-based testing to emerge as the standard for testing and QA in software development, particularly in the wake of the heterogeneity of browsers and platforms in the industry at large.
Google Enterprise 2011 Partner of the Year Cloud Sherpas has merged with Salesforce.com Platinum Consulting Partner GlobalOne to form a combined entity under the Cloud Sherpas name. Cloud Sherpas helps enterprises migrate to cloud-based Google applications such as Gmail, Google Calendar and Google Documents. GlobalOne, meanwhile, helps businesses unlock maximal business value out of Salesforce.com’s CRM applications. The union of the two companies will create an even more powerful cloud service provider organization that will drive the transformation from legacy applications to cloud-based software in verticals such as government, education and business. To top things off, Cloud Sherpas recently announced the finalization of an additional $20 million round of funding from Columbia Capital, a leading venture capital firm focused on enterprises.
The newly formed Cloud Sherpas organization boasts attributes such as the successful migration of 1.5 million employees to the cloud, over 1500 clients, more than $40 million in venture capital and year over year growth of roughly 300%. The infusion of $20 million in venture capital is expected to enable Cloud Sherpas to expand its geographic positioning, develop vertical market software solutions and increase its portfolio of inter-operable applications. GlobalOne CEO David Northington will assume the CEO role for the newly formed Cloud Sherpas organization. All 261 employees from both companies will continue with the new Cloud Sherpas organization, which is based in Atlanta.