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6/15/2009
06:18 PM
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Salesforce Enticing Customers With Force.com Free Edition

The initiative lets customers build Web applications and, if they wish, their own branded Web site to be operated on the Salesforce.com infrastructure.

Salesforce.com often signs up customers who come to its Force.com set of tools and build their first application online. So Salesforce.com is making that experience free through a new offering on Monday, Force.com Free Edition.

An application with up to 100 authenticated employee users or up to 250,000 public page views per month will be hosted for free. When traffic moves above those points, Salesforce.com charges $25 per user per month or $1,000 per month for up to one million external visitor views.

"We can't think of a better way to accelerate the adoption of our platform than to make the first application on us," said Ariel Kelman, senior director of Salesforce platform product marketing, in an interview.

Salesforce.com is pairing its Force.com Free Edition application building capability with a Force.com Sites offering that allows a customer to mount an application as an employee-facing or public-facing Web site on Salesforce's infrastructure. In the past, the firm has offered CRM and ERP applications that could be customized and still run on its site. Now it's letting customers build both Web applications and, if they wish, their own branded Web site to be operated on the Salesforce.com infrastructure.

Kelman cited as an example the Starbucks Pledge5 Web site, built in three weeks to allow the Starbucks CEO to announce it on the eve of President Barack Obama's inauguration day. The site lists volunteer projects in each user's zip code and asks them to pledge five hours of community service to one of them. Built with Salesforce.com tools on the Salesforce.com infrastructure, Kelman said the site experienced three million views in its first day of operation.

He called the latter an example of how Salesforce.com is moving beyond software as a service into cloud computing. Force.com Free Edition

Force.com Sites adds a simple Web page building process to the standard tools that Salesforce has already made available to customers to build customizations and mash-ups of its existing applications. The pages are built with standard Web technologies, such as HTML and JavaScript, and given extra tags that can be used to display them in sequence.

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