Salesforce.com deepens ties to Japan

A new datacenter, investments and partnerships are on tap

Salesforce.com is expanding its presence in Japan with a series of new investments and partnerships, the on-demand software vendor announced Tuesday.

For one, a new data center Salesforce.com built with NTT Communications is now in testing, and is planned to open in November, according to a statement.

The company has also invested in Netyear Group Corporation, a Japanese company that provides consulting and marketing services to enterprises. The move follows Salesforce.com's investments in Japanese startups such as marketing automation vendor Synergy Marketing and Uhuru, a systems integrator focused on cloud services.

Salesforce.com has also aligned itself closely with the Ruby programming language developed by Japanese programmer Yukihiro Matsumoto, through the recent purchase of Heroku, a cloud-based platform for developing Ruby applications. Heroku "will lend support to [Matsumoto's] efforts to further develop the Ruby programming language," Salesforce.com said.

Earlier this week, Salesforce.com announced that it would work with Toyota to build a private social network, Toyota Friend, for the car maker's customers. The platform will be based on Salesforce.com's Chatter technology.

While Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff shares a love of Japanese culture with his former boss, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, there are concrete business reasons for the vendor's aggressive push into the market.

"Japan's a market ripe for innovation," said analyst Ray Wang, CEO of Constellation Research, via e-mail. "Most of the top Nikkei listed companies continue to run their systems on outdated mainframe applications. These applications stifle and strangle many organizations' ability to innovate. Cloud based development platforms on newer languages provide the platforms for growth and breathe new life into an otherwise staid enterprise software market."

The market for cloud services in Japan is set to hit ¥1.4 billion (US$17 million) by 2014, quintupling in size since 2009, according to a recent report by analyst firm IDC. So far, the hottest competition has been among cloud infrastructure providers, analyst Satoshi Matsumoto wrote.

Earlier this year, Amazon Web Services announced the opening of a new data center in Japan.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris's e-mail address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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