AppExchange Gone Wild
Salesforce.com announced Wednesday that its AppExchange on-demand development platform is now available as a separate offering from the company's CRM and SFA software. AppExchange OEM Edition is intended for startups and established ISVs seeking to create new on-demand applications built upon proven technology.
The announcement at Appforce, the company's first annual AppExchange partner and user conference, highlights Salesforce's early success with the development tool. Chairman and CEO Marc Benioff cited more than 8,600 installations of the approximately 250 applications currently available on AppExchange, and over 122,000 test-drives since the platform's launch in September 2005.
In addition, Benioff shared the stage with a handful of pilot AppExchange OEM Edition partners: DreamFactory Software, MyLoanBiz, Rally Software Development, and Remend. "Partners can focus on building robust and cutting-edge features tailored to their specific markets, rather than worrying about fundamental platform development issues," Benioff said. "Now, applications built on the AppExchange platform can exist completely separately from CRM and can be distributed directly by Salesforce.com partners, further extending the reach, benefits, and success of on-demand computing to new customers and news markets worldwide."
AppExchange OEM Edition applications will be superficially similar to any other app from Salesforce; OEM Edition relies on the common user interface, single sign-on, and data sharing model in use by existing Salesforce customers. However, it puts three development tools into partners' hands: AppExchange API, the programming interface; the AppExchange Database; and AppExchange Builder for customization and integration with other apps. Developers will be able to apply up to five custom tabs and 50 custom objects to the interface. Partners' creations will of course be distributed through Salesforce's service delivery platform.
While the AppExchange platform is no longer linked to CRM specifically, CRM is still an important part of its present and future, according to Sheryl Kingstone, program manager for Yankee Group. "OEM Edition is targeted to two areas. One is the vertical vendors who could otherwise be competitors to Salesforce, leveraging the CRM data model for microsegmentation of the CRM industry," Kingstone says. The other is "complementary applications that have nothing to do with CRM, like HR."
One thing that Kingstone welcomes in the OEM Edition is a standard pricing model. Partners previously had no guideline for what to charge for their applications because each had a separate deal with salesforce for the development tools. AppExchange OEM Edition is priced at $25 per user, per month, setting a baseline for further value-adds. "Salesforce is fixing the mistake of not having standard pricing."
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