Salesforce.com offers unbundled access to on-demand application network

AppExchange platform no longer requires subscription to core product

Salesforce.com recently announced what could become a major land-grab in the emerging software-as-a-service market. The online software company began its rise to prominence with a fairly humble but eminently usable sales and marketing Web application, which grew into a more full-functioned CRM product. As it grew, Salesforce.com gradually exposed more and more of its operating platform to partner developers, creating a universe of affiliated, integrated software running with the Salesforce CRM product at its core. The myriad applications offered through what the company came to call AppExchange were, therefore, primarily of interest to businesses which also wanted to run Salesforce in its chosen role as a sales and marketing application.

Now, Salesforce.com is moving to separate the two components of its business. Customers may now subscribe directly to the network of integrated applications under the "Salesforce Platform" brand, gaining access to AppExchange products and inter-related linkages without the need for the core Salesforce.com product.

Although customers of the stand-alone AppExchange will not have to pay for Salesforce licenses, the company still makes money directly on the infrastructure. Users pay $50 or $100 per month each to access AppExchange, in addition to fees paid to the individual service providers, for the privilege of using the network, integration, and online data storage. The company has also hinted at a new service, Salesforce Code, to enable developers to write software more directly to the Salesforce hosting platform. The Code product is currently in a closed testing period and is expected to become available to customers later this year.

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