Salesforce.com plans to extend its business model from providing hosted customer relationship management applications to providing hosted development tools with the release of its sforce online application development utility, launched at the Grand Havana Club in New York Tuesday evening.
The San Francisco-based company, which has more than 6,500 customers for its hosted CRM applications, is partnering with Microsoft Corp., Sun Microsystems Inc., Borland Inc. and BEA Systems Inc. to offer Web services to developers that allow them to build Internet applications with the development tools they already use.
"Theyre exposing their data stores as Web services, and weve got the programming tools to access them," said Danl Lewin, corporate vice president, U.S. .Net platform strategy, at Microsoft
Enterprises that use Salesforce.com now will be able to use sforce to build tighter connections to other applications in their environment via Web services like XML, WSDL and SOAP. But Salesforce.com is also positioning sforce as a way for enterprises as well as software vendors to build their own applications as services.
More than 25 software companies have already signed on to use sforce to develop their own hosted services, including Angel.com, Aspire Technologies Inc., AvantGo, Blue Martini Software Inc., Business Objects SA, Data Junction Inc., Digital Impact Inc., eBridge Software, Eloqua and Entopia.
Most of these companies are developing services specifically for Salesforce.com customers. The add-ons are accessed and data is stored at Salesforce.com.
But Salesforce.com is also expecting enterprises to build their own applications using sforce, which will also serve as a way to integrate the Salesforce.com service with back-end applications.
"Were building and delivering tools and services to allow companies to create their own utilities," said Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff, who described the new Salesforce.com offering as a "client-service" offering.