• April 13, 2005
  • By Marshall Lager, founder and managing principal, Third Idea Consulting; contributor, CRM magazine

Salesforce.com Gives It All Away

Salesforce held its first Integrationforce Day conference on Tuesday, where Chairman and CEO Marc Benioff previewed the Summer '05 version of his company's on-demand CRM system. Salesforce Summer '05, planned for introduction in June, will include several open-source toolkits aimed at better integration and improved communication for users and developers. One of Summer '05's fundaments is the Sforce Partner Portal Toolkit, a Java-based application for creating partner access channels into a company's Web site, enabling the company, for example, to transfer sales leads to partners without exposing the entire CRM system to them. Tien Tzuo, senior vice president of product strategy, says, "Any customer can use the Sforce Partner Portal Toolkit to bring in partners and resellers, but only expose the parts of your CRM system you want to." The Partner Portal Toolkit was the centerpiece of Tuesday's discussion, but several other new integrations made their debut alongside it. Sforce Single Sign On enables subscribers to integrate their Salesforce login with Windows or LDAP authentication information. "Not only does this streamline user access," Tzuo says, "but it saves a major IT headache when an employee parts ways with the company: Change one ID and password and the person is locked out of all sensitive applications." Sforce Self-Service API, Tzuo says, is "similar to Single Sign On for Supportforce self-service portals," allowing companies to integrate the Supportforce Self-Service Portal with ID management systems, third-party portals, and customer-facing Web applications. In addition, the existing STAPI toolkit will also be released as open source. Salesforce's open source project regularly ranks in the top 20 percent of most active projects at sourceforge.net. The final new utility, Sforce Data Loader, is a tool for bulk importing, exporting, and updating Salesforce data with other applications. A wizard-based interface will allow companies to transfer information from ERP and legacy support applications. Though currently proprietary, Tzuo says Sforce Data Loader "will eventually be open source." All the Tuesday announcements for Summer '05 will feed into Multiforce, which was also previewed at Integrationforce Day. Multiforce, announced in March of this year, is an on-demand operating environment that incorporates single sign-on for users with the ability to switch at will between Salesforce, Supportforce, and any other applications written for the company's platform. Multiforce is intended to let companies create and share applications quickly and without writing new code, which would eliminate deployment issues and data silos. "Much as users can run multiple programs simultaneously under the Windows operating system," Tzuo says, "they can run multiple Sforce utilities under Multiforce. Everything runs off of the same database, and anything written for Multiforce can be integrated with any other." According to Tzuo, the drive toward open-source is a clear result of the success of Sforce. "In the past two years," he says, "the number of pages we serve per quarter has grown from 100 million to over 800 million. More to the point, 20 percent of those pages served are from Salesforce applications." Open source, he adds, will make it easier for companies to access Salesforce's utilities and see their value. "That provides the impetus for them to subscribe to our services--we make money by adding subscribers, not by selling products." Related articles: CRM with No Money Down Salesforce.com Partners Introduce a Range of Integrated Applications
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