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SAN FRANCISCO — Salesforce.com opened up its marquee conference event on Tuesday morning with the announcement of a new edition to its family of cloud services, the Salesforce IoT Cloud.

Designed to be a layer of integration between the stream of data incoming from connected devices and the information stored by companies in their Salesforce systems, the IoT (that’s “Internet of Things”) Cloud is being described as a “real-time event processing engine.” Salesforce has also branded the underlying technology that can ingest data from connected devices as Thunder. In addition to opening up the pipes to a flow of IoT information, the new cloud service will help businesses set rules and logic for automated events to be triggered as a result of that data, using a point-and-click interface to achieve that.

At a pre-briefing conference for press at Dreamforce, Tod Nielsen, executive vice president of platform for Salesforce, introduced the platform and took the opportunity to make a couple of less-than-veiled jabs at IBM Corp.

While companies in the past were using products like IBM’s Tivoli to create data streams about their systems, they were left to sift through them and find the proverbial “needle in the haystack” on their own, Nielsen said. That’s not the case with IoT cloud.

“It’s going to transform the way companies engage with their customers and access data,” he says.

Whereas IBM ran an ad campaign several years ago asking companies “how many data scientists have you hired so far?”, IoT cloud will make data generated by devices accessible to those without math degrees, Nielsen said.

“Instead of constraining the ability to process this information to an elite set of people we thought it was important to democratize it,” he said. “It’s useable by mere mortals.”

In an on-stage demo, the IoT cloud was accessed in a browser and real-time data from connected thermostats was shown, represented on moving line graphs. Some business rules orchestration was applied to isolate thermostats showing abnormal readings, which created opportunities for the user to dig into with a click of the mouse. From there, actions to be taken included sending a notification to a customer’s app that it was time to replace the batteries, or creating a service call to have a repair technician do a visit. Any Salesforce cloud could be connected to from the IoT cloud, sending an action to be dealt with elsewhere, or calling on that data to apply business rules.

Salesforce pointed to several launch partners for its IoT Cloud, naming companies that would provide connectivity between their devices and the new service including ARM, Etherios, Informatica, PTC ThingWorx, and Xively by LogMeIn.

“I expect there will be an eo-system of providers that provide data to the IoT cloud so a user can say ‘oh great I’m going to connect to this, this and this,” Nielsen says. “What we’re going to learn in the next six to nine months is what people want to connect to. Our goal is to make it as easy as possible.”

A pilot of the IoT Cloud is anticipated for the first half of 2016, according to Salesforce. Generally availability is slated for later in the year and pricing will be announced at that time.

 



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