• April 16, 2008
  • By Jessica Tsai, Assistant Editor, CRM magazine

Salesforce.com Comes to Town

NEW YORK -- Salesforce.com arrived in New York City today on the fourth stop along its international Tour de Force Roadshow. As expected, the software-as-a-service (SaaS) pioneer continued to drive forth the power of on-demand, expand acceptance of its notion of platform-as-a-service (PaaS), and cajoled the audience--which was overflowing with Salesforce.com users--to become evangelists as well. Riding the momentum of its Monday announcement of an integration with Google Apps, Salesforce.com executives say that chief information officers, technology manages, and developers need to decide now which road they want to take: software or cloud computing. Judging by the "Ooh"s and "Ahh"s from the audience, it seemed many were drifting toward the latter. When the company commenced its Tour de Force journey in San Francisco this past January, the news centered on a pay-as-you-go subscription model that gives companies the flexibility to operate on a per-login basis rather than annual fees and licenses. This time, Marc Benioff, the company's chairman, CEO, and founder, focused on the concept of what SaaS and PaaS could provide software developers -- and, by extension, how those benefits extend to end users. Everything from the hardware infrastructure (e.g., network, storage), the software infrastructure (e.g., security, Web services), technical operations (e.g., authentication, monitoring), and business operations (e.g., marketing, sales), are available to the software developer--for free. All developers have to worry about is the application itself, he told the crowd. Comparing his company's Force.com platform to the Microsoft .NET framework, Benioff told the crowd that the Microsoft path requires developers to purchase, install, upgrade, and maintain off of a Web environment. According to Benioff, this structure is not only a "terrible idea," but one that is "very Western" because the cost and complexity make it difficult to execute in developing countries. The Force.com platform, on the other hand, provides "Your -- Database/Integrations/Workflow/Code -- on Our Service," the company boasts. According to Nicholas Carr, author of The Big Switch and the infamous Harvard Business Review
article "IT Doesn't Matter," technology is undergoing a transformation -- a change being driven by economics simply because business is driven by economics. "The economic benefits of cloud computing will change the fundamental assumptions of computing," he told the crowd. Companies no longer have to operate on their own private supply of software and can instead access the wealth of Web 2.0 applications and work off a utility-based model. Currently, technology costs are spent on labor responsible for daily maintenance and upkeep. When companies can steer away from isolated systems and share common solutions (perhaps, say, over Salesforce.com's platform), they can decrease inefficiency and increase innovation. For the final hour of this morning's keynote presentation, several Salesforce.com customers came up to demonstrate how they were using the platform to build their systems:
  • Morgan Stanley has taken a CRM system and turned it into a recruitment management agent;
  • Narinder Singh, chief marketing officer of software development company Appirio, demonstrated how his company has helped a large customer, Dolby, to tackle SaaS. Benioff commented on the fact that Dolby's interface did not resemble the traditional Salesforce.com page, and, having earlier taken a swipe at one large competitor, took the opportunity to poke fun at another. "This isn't the SAP CEO here," he said. "Who are you trying to fool?" Singh described how Appirio, using Salesforce.com's Visualforce customization functionality, has adapted Dolby's user interface because, he said, like New Yorkers, clients "want style."
  • Finally, United Kingdom-based enterprise financial application provider Coda demonstrated how it has turned Salesforce.com into an accounting program. Adam Gross, vice president of platform marketing for Force.com, clicked a button to reveal a professional invoice that looked nothing like the traditional Salesforce.com interface -- and eliciting a "Wow" from a nearby attendee.
Related articles: Salesforce.com Brings Utility Computing to On-Demand -- But Not to CRM The Force.com platform becomes the first software-as-a-service offering to allow pay-per-login pricing, but the company's CRM applications aren't included. Salesforce.com's Soapbox Is the Platform At Dreamforce '07, AppExchange says hello to its younger, bigger sister: Force.com, touted as "platform-as-a-service"; the family also welcomes a cousin: Visualforce, hailed as "user-interface-as-a-service." Salesforce.com Introduces Platform-as-a-Service With its Summer '07 release, the on-demand specialist expands from on-demand applications to on-demand platforms. Salesforce.com Uncouples Apps from CRM The company introduces Salesforce Platform Edition, a version that allows application development and sharing without a CRM subscription. Salesforce Turns Silver The popular software-as-a-service CRM company delivers its 25th release, adding collaboration and content features amidst rumors of ownership-shopping.
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