Salesforce.com Adds Web Site Development Layer to Cloud Services

Salesforce.com continues to push its cloud computing functionality into the enterprise, with the introduction of a new tool that allows users to harness the applications available on Force.com and apply them to corporate Web sites.

Force.com Sites, part of the company’s Force.com cloud computing platform, allows customers to run their Web sites in Salesforce.com’s cloud.

Users can leverage the database, workflow, logic, integration, customization and user interface capabilities in Force.com to share business data and applications with external users and Web sites.

Staking Out Territory

There are now some 85,000 custom applications available on the Force.com platform that can be extended to external communities, Kendall Collins, senior vice president of product marketing for Salesforce.com, told CRM Buyer. “What we are announcing with Force.com Sites is technology that will cause users to look at Force.com in an entirely new way.”

Essentially, the new functionality expands Salesforce.com’s role in cloud computing for the enterprise, said Collins. “Users can run an entire corporate Web site in the cloud, which is a significant shift from how sites are managed now.”

Salesforce.com is laying claim to the few pieces of enterprise cloud computing real estate that it doesn’t already own, he continued.

“We delivered a killer application for CRM [with Salesforce.com] — and Force.com allows developers to build all sorts of compelling applications in the cloud. There are only a few areas left in the enterprise for us to reach — such as the corporate Web site,” Collins said.

More Dynamic

“Force.com Sites is a natural extension of what Salesforce.com has been doing recently,” Rebecca Wettemann, vice president of research at Nucleus Research, told CRM Buyer.

It also is true to Salesforce.com’s go-to-market strategy, she added. “Salesforce.com targeted traditional CRM several years ago. Now it is going after traditional application development and integration in the same manner.”

Clearly, there are tools on the market that allow companies to connect back-end systems to a front-end Web site. However, Web sites built on Force.com Sites will be more dynamic, Collins noted, as they are based on an internal business applications running on Force.com. Sites dedicated to event registrations, hotel concierge services or recruiting, for example, could be updated in near real-time.

Force.com Sites also integrates with Salesforce.com CRM functionality, mainly via the creation of Web-to-lead forms that make it easy for visitors to flag their interest in receiving information about a product or service.

Early Innovators

Web sites created by early adopters of Force.com Sites have leveraged these capabilities. For instance, Appirio has created an online marketplace that matches private businesses with investors or buyers, as well as a new Facebook application that uses employee networks for recruiting and hiring. It also built a Web-recruiting application for ThomasNet, a provider of vertical listings for more than 2,000 industrial markets and companies.

Bluewolf built a community networking Web portal for the healthcare industry that includes a mashup of dentist locations, information on what services they provide, and patient reviews.

Force.com Sites’ developer preview pricing is based on monthly page views, a departure from Salesforce.com’s traditional pricing model, Collins noted.

The tool will be generally available next year, although Collins could not provide a specific date. Force.com Sites is now available in developer preview.

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