Dreamforce is always Silicon Valley’s liveliest event, but this year’s event was especially great, with lots of shocking announcements and plenty of entertainment. Bill Clinton, Stevie Wonder, Will.I.Am from the BlackEyesPeas, the Bush impersonator and the Microsoft’s customer who didn’t get forced were among the featured guests at the event.

For a recap of last week’s event, lets take a look at the major announcements:

1. Chatter is set free… Ah free at last

Much of the opening session of Dreamforce was focused on Chatter and its practical benefits in corporate environments. Salesforce also highlighted how Chatter bridges the old world and new world of the business user by linking to Microsoft Outlook and mobile devices. Several customers were showcased, including Dell which has  thousands of users on Chatter and attributes its successful deployment to three things: executive support and buy-in, user training, and alignment with the corporate communications group.
To extend its reach further into organizations beyond the sales and marketing departments, Salesforce announced it will offer Chatter for free . This initiative will allow Salesforce users to invite others within their organizations to utilize Chatter, in the same way Facebook users can invite friends to join their networks.
Next on the plan for Chatter is a public roll out in February aimed at popularizing Salesforce’s social networking capability in the open market.

2. Move aside Oracle, Database.com is here

“Databases need to be in the cloud,” a bold statement from Benioff, as he announces Database.com to a crowd of 14,000 people. “You can use Database.com from any language, from any device.”

Salesforce is basically opening up the same giant database-as-a-service it already uses to power the Salesforce CRM application itself — and offering a full complement of developer tools and security controls to go with it. Instead of subscribing to Salesforce, you subscribe to Salesforce’s back end. It’s similar in spirit to what Amazon did when it decided to make its infrastructure available to subscribers through Amazon Web Services.

A key advantage of Database.com will be users’ ability to focus on building applications on top of Database.com, rather than having to focus on the management and maintenance of a locally stored database. Salesforce also touted the database’s flexibility, noting that developers can write applications for it in a variety of languages such as Oracle’s Java and on a variety of platforms, including Microsoft Azure.

Database.com will be available next year, initially for free for small groups building small databases. For more than three users or databases with more than 100,000 records, monthly fees begin at $10 based on the number of users, transactions or records stored in the database.

3. A Hero for Heroku

On day 3 of the event Salesforce announced its acquired Heroku for $212 million as part of its Cloud 2 suite of cloud applications. Heroku develops and deploys web-based applications that rely on the programming language Ruby on Rails. Benioff said the Heroku acquisition was made to open up Salesforce’s platform.

“Ruby is the language of Cloud 2,” Benioff said. “Developers love Ruby. It’s a huge advancement. The speed you can get, the agility.” Heroku has over 106,000 Ruby applications currently running.

Heroku is “how next-generation developers think about how to design and build and run applications,” Benioff told the audience. “They’ve come out with how to do instant deployment and they really get how to build a rock-solid platform.”

4. May the Force be with you

Salesforce released a more robust version of force.com that focuses around highly specific skill areas. As part of their attempt to provide complete platform capabilities and to entice developers with tools that support development on force.com, Salesforce created:

Appforce A platform for companies to build collaborative departmental apps that scale.

Remedyforce An IT management environment (see Salesforce’s announcement)

Siteforce A website creation solution designed with both developers and business users in mind.

VMforce A private beta service for Java developers to run their applications natively on Force.com.

ISVforce A platform service that enables ISVs to build and deliver multi-tenant cloud apps.

Now let’s take a look at the complete Salesforce portfolio:

(Click to enlarge photo)

sfdc products Dreamforce 2010: A Recap of the Cloud Computing Event of the Year

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