Force.com & Heroku
The App Cloud consists of two key parts – Force.com & Heroku.
Force.com provides you point & click tools together with a programmatic framework. The programmatic aspect of Force.com is very easy to learn – if you know any object oriented language then it should take you almost no time to become an expert in Force.com programming.
Heroku on the other hand lets you create applications in several open source app dev frameworks (e.g. Java, Ruby, Node.js) of your choice and gives you a choice of databases like Postgres, MySQL and more. All the dev-ops and infrastructure tasks are taken care of by Heroku.
How to select the right technology platform?
Enterprise Applications vs. Consumer Apps
To understand how one technology can complement another and how you should select one vs the other – it is important to understand the nature of applications you will be creating.
Broadly speaking – the application landscape could be divided into two parts; enterprise apps and consumer apps. An ERP system is an example of an enterprise app. A department store’s shopping app – which you download on your smartphone – is an example of a consumer app.
Enterprise applications are marked by high complexity around business process modeling and fine grained access control. Relatively speaking, enterprise applications have a smaller number of users (limited to employees, partners and customers).
On the other hand, consumer apps – like an eCommerce, mobile shopping app or loyalty app – are marked by a very high volume of users while having relatively lower degree of complexity (as compared to enterprise apps like ERP systems).
Use Cases: Force.com or Heroku?
Both Force.com & Heroku complement each other. Force.com should be your framework of choice for creating enterprise applications – internal business applications in a company, while Heroku lets you create highly scalable consumer apps.
Force.com excels for creating industrial strength enterprise apps which require complex validations, rules and approval processes.
Through visual tools like Process Builder, built in comprehensive security sharing model, auto-generated page layouts, mobile support & 4000+ pre-built applications components on Appexchange – Force.com allows you to create complex business applications very very fast.
This speed in creating complex enterprise applications allows you to respond to changes in your business quickly – you can easily model new business processes in your application using point and click tools. Your business users are sure to love you as you delight them with easy to use applications. You can even securely extend these applications to your partners and customers through Force.com Communities.
On the other hand, those applications which are external (e.g. a mobile loyalty app) or need huge amount of data repository (e.g. video serving site) are best suited for Heroku. Another use case for Heroku is an application which does heavy computation with out requiring user interaction.
Both – Force.com & Heroku – are very powerful frameworks. And their power lies in how easy they make application development for you – allowing you to create extremely complex applications in days, which in the past used to take months and years.