Salesforce.com today unveiled Unlimited Edition, the newest version of its popular hosted CRM application. The company says this edition, which supports any number of third party or custom-developed modules via AppExchange, will enable customers to use the Salesforce platform throughout the enterprise. The product is priced at $195 per user per month.
"This is an evolution beyond CRM. It's a realization of our vision of on-demand computing," says Kendall Collins, vice president of product marketing. Salesforce Unlimited Edition leverages the company's AppExchange developer community, as well as the Salesforce Sandbox test bed to model all the Salesforce applications, customizations, integrations, and corporate data, according to Collins.
Unlimited Edition includes unlimited applications, premium support and administration, testing, and increased storage compared to Salesforce Enterprise Edition. With the new version users have more than 2,000 custom objects (compared to 200 in Enterprise Edition) to write and run applications for CRM and other business activities, including finance, legal, and human resources, which have typically resided in different parts of the enterprise. "Many of these applications are very closely tied to CRM," Collins says. "This allows them to centralize the applications in a very efficient way."
The premium support and administration feature includes a support representative to help maintain customer-specific knowledge. It also includes technical support that will help enterprises install, deploy, and implement new apps from AppExchange, Collins says. "As companies spread their deployments beyond CRM, this lets them focus on running their business, rather than the technology."
The new version also includes 120 MB of storage per user, six times the amount offered in Enterprise Edition. The increased storage will aid companies that are running multiple on-demand business applications simultaneously, according to Collins. "We've very excited... [and we've had] some good adoption across all customer segments, [and] we expect good adoption among customers in the small business space."
"Unlimited Edition is a very important development," says Denis Pombriant, managing principal of Beagle Research Group. "Companies have had a very fragmented view of business processes; there hasn't been anything that allows them to get a 360 degree view of the customer. Now those using Unlimited Edition can standardize on the same kind of environment for all occasions. They can have integrated processes from one end of the enterprise to the other so that the problem of information silos can begin to abate."
The Salesforce service outages in recent months raise the question of uptime. Martin Schneider, enterprise software analyst for The 451 Group, considers the big picture: "The notion that Salesforce needs to handle all of this traffic is a point to ponder," Schneider says. A lot of the application infrastructure, data, and integration activities will be on the side of the individual company, according to Schneider. "But that opens up another can of worms. How can effective SLAs be instituted beforehand?" In some instances, Schneider says, user uptime will be completely dependent on Salesforce data center uptime. "How can any hosted vendor know just how heavy a load they will be responsible for on a customer-by-customer basis?"
In the end, Schneider says, credit must be given to Salesforce's pioneering efforts in on-demand. "Salesforce is forging new ground when it comes to application delivery, creation, and management. So, some trial and error and other hiccups will have to be expected by the early adopters here."
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