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Salesforce Acquires Ruby Cloud Vendor Heroku for $212 Million

By Sean Michael Kerner     Feedback

It's not just about Java anymore as the SaaS CRM vendor makes a big move into the open source Ruby language.

The open source Ruby language is getting a big enterprise boost today with the proposed acquisition of Ruby cloud vendor Heroku by Salesforce.com (NYSE: CRM) for $212 million in cash. The deal is set to close in Salesforce.com's fiscal fourth quarter ending Jan. 31, 2011.

With the acquisition of Heroku, Salesforce will be adding to its Force.com cloud platform as a service offering, a new language to complement its existing Java-based VMforce cloud service. The move is a big endorsement for the open source Ruby language, which helps power popular Web services such as Groupon and Twitter. The acquisition of Heroku comes just a day after Salesforce.com announced its new Database.com service at the company's Dreamforce conference.

"Ruby is the future," George Hu, executive vice president of platform and marketing at Salesforce.com, said in a press conference announcing the deal. "With a growing community of more than 1 million developers, Ruby has become a leading language for next-generation apps that are social, mobile and real time, which we describe as cloud 2."

Hu added that a key tenet of Saleforce.com's overall platform strategy is about making the platform open, which is why adding Heroku and its Ruby capabilities is a great fit.

According to Hu, Heroku's Ruby cloud already has more than 105,000 apps deployed on it and is growing at a rapid rate. Heroku isn't the only Ruby cloud offering in the market, as it competes against other vendors like Engine Yard.

"When you look at Heroku versus Engine Yard, they have different approaches," Hu said. "Heroku focuses on developers with their open multi-tenant approach. Look at the number of apps and their growth rate. Developers have voted with their code."

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By adding Ruby as a second supported language, Saleforce.com isn't abandoning Java developers either. Salesforce.com's VMforce platform, which is a partnership with VMware, is all about Java. Hu noted that Salesforce.com now will be able to support two incredibly popular languages with both Java and Ruby.

Hu noted that developers often stick with what they are used to using. He added that there are currently 6 million Java developers and it's a market that Salesforce.com will continue to serve with VMforce. In Hu's view, the Heroku Ruby and VMforce Java platforms are complementary to each other.

That said, Salesforce.com is very bullish on Ruby.

"Ruby has become the language of choice, as it enables developers to write code more efficient or effectively than Java," Hu said. "We have seen the Ruby community grow on a fast trajectory and we think it's the future and an unstoppable trend."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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This article was originally published on December 8, 2010
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