Salesforce.com is making sure that its platform offerings match how customers are going to apply its multitasking technology and AppExchange custom applications. Today, the company added a new Unlimited Edition monthly subscription that includes all the features of the Enterprise Edition and increases storage capacity per user by six times (120 MB), allows for up to 2000 custom objects per customer (current limit is 200; a typical AppExchange application has 3 to 10 custom objects), supports an unlimited number of applications (current limit, 10) and throws in the Salesforce Sandbox (a pre-production testbed), 24x7 premium support (human contact).
Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff pitches the new edition as giving customers the “capability to run their entire enterprise on The Business Web.” A more accurate characterization would be running part of an enterprise on Salesforce.com’s platform. The most popular AppExchange applications are Project and Issue Management, Expense Tracker, Services Project Manager, Skype Tab Opportunity Conference Call and Vacation Requests. No on demand enterprise-class packaged applications--supply chain management, compliance, financials, etc.--that are part of the Salesforce.com or AppExchange galaxy, other than by Web service integration.
George Hu, senior vice president of applications at Salesforce.com, told me that Unlimited Edition is a step along the path in which the company is broadening its platform beyond the CRM database core. “Over time, we will see the nature of applications shift and we’ll attack more of the packaged applications,” Hu said. “We are evolving from data to content, process and transaction management—giving customers the raw tools to go deeper.”
Hu wouldn’t say when those raw tools would become available. But there is no doubt that Salesforce.com will develop engines for content management, business process management and transaction-based applications, and in combination with its software ecosystem build ‘packaged’ applications to further its vision of on demand everywhere. Microsoft, Oracle, SAP and others generating billions in revenue from enterprise software aren't quaking in their boots. Salesforce.com has a lot of engineering ahead, and will have to increase the reliability of its hosting data centers.
Unlimited Edition is priced at $195 per month per user, compared to $125 per user for the Enterprise Edition. Hu told me the pricing is far less than the same feature via a la carte pricing, which he estimated would total $265 (Enterprise: $125, Sandbox: $25, premium support: $40, storage: $25, unlimited applications capacity: $50). Makes you think that the a la carte pricing is inflated.