Salesforce.com to Offer Hosted Development Tools

 
 
By Dennis Callaghan  |  Posted 2003-06-04
 
 
 

Salesforce.com to Offer Hosted Development Tools


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.

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While many at the launch event, including Microsofts Lewin, doubted that enterprises would ever move mission-critical data, as opposed to customer contact information, from beyond the firewall to a hosted service, Benioff remains bullish.

"We can change the paradigm," Benioff said. "This is the future. Client/server is the present."

No less an authority than Adam Bosworth, who led development teams for Access and Internet Explorer while at Microsoft and is now chief architect and senior vice president of advanced development at BEA, endorsed the strategy.

Bosworth said Salesforce.com has achieved what companies like Microsoft, Oracle Corp., Sun and IBM failed to achieve on their own five years ago—an open Web services platform.

"Its easier to talk to Salesforce.com than it is to talk to a database," he said.

Sforce is analogous to Siebel Systems Inc.s Universal Application Network and SAP AGs NetWeaver application integration strategies, according to Benioff.

But he said sforce goes well beyond both because its less expensive, requires no software and is easy to use, even for non-developers.

Though he doesnt have an IT background, Salesforce.com customer Bill Dillon, territory manager at Wendover Technology Marketing Reports of Haverford, Pa., envisions his company building its own collections, accounting and lead management applications using sforce.

Dillon said that in time, sforce will become the platform of choice in organizations.

"People just have to become comfortable using the Internet this way. People thought e-mail would never catch on, but right now virtually everyones using it," he said.

Parker Harris, Salesforce.coms senior vice president of research and development, said customers will likely use sforce to integrate and extend the Salesforce.com hosted service initially, then begin to develop entirely new applications within six months to a year.

Sforce is available now. It includes the Salesforce.com Developer Edition plus support and sample code. While theres no cost to access the tools, deployment is $50 per end user per month plus $1 per megabyte per month. The first three users and 10MBs are free for the first year. There is no cost for deployment for Salesforce.com Enterprise Edition customers.

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