Salesforce.com Inc has added to its portfolio of services with the release of the Unlimited Edition, which builds on the platform theme the company is promoting.
The difference between Salesforce.com’s current offerings and the Unlimited Edition is that it is being pitched as a platform as opposed to a CRM application so it offers greater scope for expansion than the current top-of-the-line service, Salesforce.com Enterprise Edition, while still providing the same level of CRM functionality.
The key to Unlimited Edition is the number of applications that can be installed via the AppExchange, which was restricted to 10 with Enterprise but is unlimited with the new edition. There is also greater capacity in other areas such as support for an unlimited number of tabs, compared to a limit of 25 in Enterprise, and support for over 2,000 custom objects. Each user is allocated 120Mb of storage, compared to the 20Mb offered under the other services. Like IBM/SAP, Salesforce.com allows subscribers to buy additional storage.
Other additions include Platinum Support and Administration, and use of the Salesforce Sandbox, which replicates an organization’s production environment, providing a safe place for development, testing, and training, and is a paid-for addition for subscribers of the existing Team, Professional, and Enterprise editions. The new service costs $195 per user per month.
It looks very much like a superset of Enterprise that is more able to take advantage of the AppExchange, but the Salesforce.com vision is that Unlimited Edition will become the platform for a wide range of applications of which CRM is just one. Salesforce.com saw a demand so it added more applications, more customization, more data capacity, so organizations can run all their applications on demand. It builds out capacity so it is not CRM with additions, but a platform with a choice of applications, said chief marketing officer Phil Robinson.
According to Robinson, the characteristics of how organizations are using Salesforce.com are changing. Each organization has the opportunity to use a different set of functionality based on a different combination of applications due to the AppExchange and aided by the Unlimited Edition.
Salesforce.com’s new direction leads it much further down the multi-vendor environment path than it has gone previously, with attendant risks such as complexity, integration issues, scope for confusion about which vendor is responsible when the system develops a problem, and more potential points of failure. With more scope for things to go wrong and less knowledge and control over the environment, Salesforce.com could end up in a situation where it is held responsible for things that are outside of its control.
Robinson does not think this will be an issue due to the architecture behind the AppExchange and because it is designed to confer the same ease of use into the platform as Salesforce.com does with the applications. He also pointed to the difference between the new style of integration AppExchange represents, which is based on publishing applications as services that can be consumed, and conventional integration. Traditional software integration is different to Web 2.0 integration…there is less work that the customer needs to do, he said. The new style offers a develop-once, use-many-times scenario, which should help with identifying and eliminating problem areas, resulting in easier integration.
Although Salesforce.com is encouraging multi-vendor environments, which is usually a byword for costly consultancy work, it is not planning to expand its own small, professional services operation on the back of it. Robinson said the company will continue to partner with organizations like Accenture, and plans to announce further partnerships with similar operations over the coming months.