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Salesforce.com Launches $1 Million Hackathon

Salesforce.com Launches $1 Million Hackathon
By Jennifer LeClaire

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What is most significant about how Salesforce is approaching its $1 million hackathon is that it is clearly making a play for the mobile app space, and sees a tremendous upside in it that far outstrips the cost of the event, the prize, or the Developer Zone it will set up at its Dreamforce conference, said security expert Kevin O'Brien.
 


Hackathons are making headlines these days but one cloud provider’s contest is coming with the largest single hackathon bounty ever. Salesforce.com is turning heads with a $1 million #salesforcehack during its Dreamforce event.

Here’s the deal: Developers will create the next killer mobile app on the Salesforce Platform for a chance to win a cool $1 million.

Salesforce has noticed a trend: with social networks rising -- and with the simultaneous proliferation of mobile devices -- developers are looking to capitalize on the potentially lucrative technology shift to create a new class of enterprise apps.

How Serious is Salesforce?

“We’re in the midst of a mobile app renaissance,” said Adam Seligman, vice president of Salesforce Platform developer and partner marketing. “Developers are reinventing how business works, and how companies connect with their customers. With the Salesforce Platform, they have the proven mobile, social and cloud services to create exponentially more productive apps for the enterprise.”

Developers have to be on site at Dreamforce to participate in the hackathon, so Salesforce is offering a $99 Hacker Pass that will give them access to a Developer Zone, as well as the main Dreamforce keynote. The deadline is Nov. 19. The winner will be announced at Dreamforce, Thursday, Nov. 21.

We caught up with Kevin O'Brien, Enterprise Solution Architect at information security firm CloudLock, to get his thoughts on the hackathon. He told us three key points are embedded in the announcement: Salesforce is serious about courting developers; the company wants mobile to be a key part of that; and the CRM provider is willing to work with development environments that are most relevant today -- such as Heroku, ExactTarget and Fuel -- in order to get there.

Attracting Force Multipliers

“The focus on mobility especially is a strong indicator of how the ‘social enterprise’ message of 2012 has evolved, as well as a clue to where and how Salesforce will be connecting end users with their data,” O’Brien said. “What is most significant about how Salesforce is approaching this hackathon is that it exists at this scale: they are clearly making a play for the app space, and see a tremendous upside in it that far outstrips the cost of the event, prize, or Developer Zone.”

As he sees it, cloud platforms generally succeed or fail not only because of the infrastructure services they offer, but also because of how well or poorly they are adopted by vendors and developers. That’s because vendors and developers serve as force multipliers for organizations looking to adopt them.

“Broadly speaking, Salesforce is clearly moving beyond CRM, and even beyond being a sales and marketing tool, into a space in which they are creating a true platform for business enablement in the cloud,” he said. “The model -- arguably one they started -- is a proven one. Google Apps, Microsoft, Box, and a number of other vendors have tread this path before.”

Meanwhile, Salesforce is moving beyond Do.com. The company is shuttering its task-management cloud service on Jan. 31, 2014. Without further explanation, Salesforce said it is working on an export tool so users can save their data for use with another project management service.
 

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