Salesforce.com became a full-fledged Web 2.0 enterprise with the introduction on Dec. 5 of its new Facebook-like information-sharing service.
With the less than handy name of Salesforce to Salesforce, the service lets users "click, connect and share data with their partners on demand," according to company executives. The offering is essentially a portal programmed on the backend to enable users to invite other companies to connect and share data.
The goal of the service is to enable business partners to link up information electronically without having to go to the trouble and expense of integrating an application.
The behind-the-scenes technology to support the portal was developed in conjunction with Dell, which has signed a major deal to utilize Salesforce.com's Partner Relationship Management software in its own efforts to formalize its indirect partner model.
The idea is that using Salesforce to Salesforce partners can distribute and exchange leads, opportunities and custom objects with other partners, employees, resellers, distributors, suppliers and anyone else they want to include in their network, according to Salesforce officials.
"Just as Facebook is revolutionizing how individuals connect, Salesforce to Salesforce is revolutionizing how companies connect and share business information," said George Hu, executive vice president of products and marketing for Salesforce.com, in a statement. "The ability to easily share information with one click across Salesforce.com's network of a million subscriptions is irresistibly attracting and retaining companies to the Force.com platform."
Click here to read more about Salesforce.com's move deeper in the Web 2.0 world.
At the same time Salesforce to Salesforce users can share leads, they can also map data and processes by subscribing to field and record updates. With the update features, users can keep records in sync with cross-company history tracking, reporting and workflow rules. The Salesforce to Salesforce software is built on the company's Force.com platform that includes its Apex on-demand programming language and developer tools. The company said in a statement that, because everyone using Salesforce to Salesforce is on the same platform, connections can happen with no integration coding required.
The caveat with Salesforce to Salesforce is, of course, that partners sharing information also have to be Salesforce.com customers. And the service isn't cheap. Salesforce will charge Enterprise and Unlimited customers $1,200 per year, per connection.
In addition to reaching its one millionth customer target in December, Salesforce said it has reached a number of additional milestones as well: The company has racked up more than 62,000 developers in the Apex Developer Network, using the Force.com platform.
More than 3,400 developers have built more than 5,800 custom interfaces using Visualforce, the company's user interface tool kit. In November, Salesforce logged its first 130 million-transaction day, and logged more than eight billion transactions in its third quarter.
The current darling of the software-as-a-service market, Salesforce.com has some potentially significant competition creeping around its front door. SAP recently announced its Business ByDesign on-demand suite for the midmarket—Salesforce.com's current sweet spot, though deal's like the one with Dell move it further into the enterprise—and Microsoft is set to release its CRM on-demand software later this month.
Both SAP and Microsoft, two of the world's biggest software companies, also intend to use their on-demand offerings as development platforms and, in Microsoft's case, a software marketplace akin to Salesforce.com's AppExchange.
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