A question that I get asked almost on a weekly basis is “What exactly is the difference between Salesforce.com Vs Force.com?”, in this article I hope to explain in clear terms what the exact difference is and how and you can utilise each of these for different purposes.
To properly explain the difference between these two products it’s best to roll back a few chapters and understand what Salesforce.com actually is in terms of the Cloud Industry. Salesforce is a SaaS product which as you can see from the diagram below stands for Software-as-a-Service. This concept is a fundamental of cloud computing and is the means of taking software off of your computer and into the cloud! Dropbox, Google Apps and GoToMeeting are all examples of Saas products.
However, we have a couple of other cloud products. Force.com is a PaaS product, which stands for Platform-as-a- Service. This concept is not an out of the box product like GoToMeeting , instead it contains an application or Framework for you to build Apps onto (Can you see where I’m going with this?!).
Lastly we have IaaS which stands for Infrastructure-as-a-Service. This doesn’t concern us too much as what this usually means is that you are renting a physical server somewhere in a warehouse from Rackspace for example.
What makes Salesforce.com SaaS and what makes Force.com PaaS?
Just like GoToMeeting or Google Apps, Salesforce.com is an out of the box solution with their three core products, Sales Cloud, Service Cloud and Marketing Cloud. You could go out and buy the Sales Cloud today and starting logging leads, opportunities, running reports etc.
In contrast, you can go out today and buy some Force.com licenses and you would not have an out of the box solution, no access to leads, accounts or opportunities. You would have to build Apps, Tabs, Custom Objects, Workflow Rules all yourself to design the kind of system that you want to use. This is where it gets interesting…
As some of you very well know, these Force.com features are all available in Salesforce.com right? Well this is because Salesforce.com is built on the Force.com platform seamlessly. When you purchase Salesforce.com Licenses for Sales Cloud, you get all of your normal tabs (Leads, Accounts etc) plus the ability to customise the whole platform using Force.com!
This is one of the reasons why Salesforce make such an effort to create a distinction between Standard and Custom objects in their Certifications as they are two very different kettles of fish of which both have limitations and interact with each other very differently.
So when you are building Custom Objects and adding in Workflows, Approval Processes etc, this is all using Force.com. This is the exact same way that AppExchange partners design apps. They create them on the Force.com platform, possibly using external web services and then package them up ready for you to download!
There you have it! Those are the differences between Salesforce.com vs Force.com. Let me know if you have any helpful additions to this post or any further questions that I will do my best to answer.