What is it about free stuff? Last week, Microsoft announced plans to offer a free anti-malware service, today, Salesforce is offering a free package on its Force.com Platform as a Service (PaaS) that includes a free Web site as well development space for one custom app.
“Force.com Free Edition will enable every company to experience success with cloud computing. This will empower anyone to build and run their first cloud computing app for free on Force.com,” said Marc Benioff, Salesforce (NYSE: CRM) chairman and CEO, in a statement.
Developers are key to other companies but may not be as important in a SaaS environment.
“I think we are seeing Salesforce delivering bit-by-bit the first do-it-yourself app development kit. Where other companies like Microsoft depend on developers, Salesforce is aiming directly at the rest of us,” said Bruce Richardson, AMR Research chief research officer, in an e-mail to InternetNews.com.
Salesforce integrators are enthusiastic. “With Salesforce’s new offer, our customers will be able to experience the benefits of cloud computing — quantifiable ROI, rapid time-to-value, and innovation that drives the business — with significantly less investment and we’re all for that,” wrote Balakrishna Narasimhan, Appirio senior director of strategy and marketing in an e-mail to InternetNews.com.
The new service has a kind of try-before-you-buy aspect that Salesforce expects will help its bottom line. “We will let customers run their first app for free, but of course as customers expand their success with Force.com, they can upgrade to the commercial package at $25 per user per month,” Ariel Kelman, Salesforce senior director of product management for Force.com told InternetNews.com.
Building ‘elastic’ Web sites with Sites
Who knew that when Benioff visited New York City in March and briefly demonstrated Salesforce’s ability to help build a massive Web site for Starbucks, he was demonstrating a product that would not be released until today?
Force.com Sites lets companies use the Salesforce database to build powerful and elastic Web sites. “This new capability of the Force.com platform lets customers expand their No Software success from applications to sites,” said Kelman.
He noted that the Starbucks Pledge 5 was built in five weeks and debuted on Oprah, guaranteeing it a massive amount of traffic.
“Site builders don’t have to worry about performance tuning or scalability. Just worry about innovation,” said Kelman.
The company said that 85 customers have been involved in the trial, which began in February, 2009, including Dell, New Jersey Transit, Seagate, and the American Red Cross.
Force.com Sites is free for up to 250,000 monthly page views. Additional page views cost $1,000 per month for up to 1 million page views. The Force.com Enterprise Edition starts with 500,000 page views, and the Unlimited Edition comes with 1 million monthly page views.
The offering is therefore intended to support special projects rather than a large company’s main Web site.
“AMR doesn’t think that Sites is intended to compete with the major Web hosting services or tools already on the market, but does provide an interesting approach for internal and external facing Web sites that provide specialized functionality and that have a short ‘time to value’ runway,” wrote Chris Fletcher, AMR Research research director, in an e-mail to InternetNews.com.