Salesforce.com has released a new pay-per-login payment option for users to access applications developed on its Force.com platform.
Rather than paying the $50 per user monthly fee for the all-you-can-eat buffet of business applications, customers can now opt to pay $5 per log-in with a maximum of five log-ins each month. The company said this Force.com cloud pricing option is for occasional-use and widely deployed applications—for example employee vacation request programs—and is available for platform use only and not for customer relationship management (CRM)
Salesforce.com customers have developed more than 50,000 custom applications on the Force.com developer platform for everything from accounts receivable and expense reporting applications to emergency room staffing and time management programs. Making this new utility pricing model available will give customers the ability to pick and choose the when and how these custom applications are deployed in their organizations based on employee usage patterns.
“Cloud computing, or platform-as-a-service, has enormous potential for the enterprise,” CEO Marc Benioff said in a statement. “Cloud computing offers almost unlimited computing power and collaboration at a massive scale.”
Force.com, which was first unveiled during the company’s Dreamforce conference in September, is built on the company’s proprietary Visualforce technology. It gives customers, developers and independent software vendors (ISV) the ability to create custom applications and user interfaces that can be accessed from desktop PCs, iPhones or retail kiosks using the Salesforce.com service.
By tapping into the logic and workflow intelligence of its Apex code, Visualforce lets users design interfaces that can be tailored to the look and feel of their brands rather than displaying their applications in the standard Salesforce.com format and design. Visualforce uses HTML, AJAX and Flex programming languages to give any customer with an Internet connection the ability to create and share their custom applications throughout their organizations.
Salesforce.com is clearly banking on this developer network to deliver more applications that make sense for the limited-use buyer.
“Most of the business apps I use—like relationship tracking, customer relations management, account management, etc.—I wouldn’t want to have to worry about how often I access it,” Richard Ptak, an analyst at Ptak, Noel & Associates, wrote in an e-mail to InternetNews.com. “I admit I have a hard time identifying a business application that I would only use on a very limited basis—maybe something like quarterly reports. It would seem to me that if an app was used that little you might find another way to accomplish the task.”
The company also announced some new development tools to make life easier for customers to create customized user interfaces for all these new Web applications they’re developing on the Force.com platform. A new Force.com metadata API
Of all the Force.com features previewed in the fall, customers were most intrigued by the editing feature that allows users to customize their interfaces to eliminate the look and feel of traditional Salesforce.com-delivered applications. Giving end users the ability to create their UI trims a lot of the clutter surrounding the applications and is particularly attractive to companies managing their sales team through iPhones and other mobile devices.
“The big value proposition for Force.com is that it offloads tasks that are not directly tied to the direct development of useful business applications,” Ptak said. “Of all the pieces of an application, the one that is most easily disconnected from innovation and processing is the UI. Therefore, providing a standard UI which can be easily modified and customized makes a lot of sense.”
All three of the new developer tools are now available for free download from the company’s Web site.