Salesforce.com embeds Google Apps in hosted CRM software

Analysts say partnership still won't convince IT managers to dump Microsoft Office

Salesforce.com Monday said it has integrated Google's hosted email, instant messaging, calendaring and spreadsheet applications with its CRM service. Analysts said that the move should help Google Apps gain some respect among skeptical IT managers unconvinced of the business suite's enterprise legitimacy.

The Salesforce for Google Apps service embeds Google's Gmail, Google Docs, Google Talk and Google Calendar software in Salesforce's hosted CRM offering. Corporate customers can use the Google on-demand tools to improve collaboration and bolster workflow among sales and marketing operations, said Sean Whitely, senior director of Applications for Salesforce.com.

The new service is currently available without charge to existing Salesforce.com customers. A premier edition of the service called Salesforce for Google Apps Supported will be available this summer at US$10 a month per user. The updated offering will add support programs.

Whitely noted the service does not currently feature integration with the Google Sites collaborative Web site development tool.

The CRM vendor said that its Salesforce.com Web portal has added a link to a page providing information on the joint effort, and to a form to order the joint offering. Additionally, customers can investigate a growing list of third-party applications being built to integrate with Salesforce for Google Apps on the AppExchange section of Salesforce.com's Web site.

The Schumacher Group, a provider of medical staffing for emergency rooms, has used salesforce.com to manage its relationship with its 2,000 to 2,500 independent contractors and, said CIO Douglas Menefee.

TSG is now using GoogleApps to build to create "a brilliant environment to deal with 2,500 individuals that aren't employees of ours, but who we need to collaborate with," he said.

Menefee said that Schumacker won't initially use Google Apps to store or transmit patient data until it can determine whether the hosted offering meets HIPAA security requirements.

Google execs have recently sought to dispel customer concerns about the security of its hosted applications.

Sheryl Kingstone of US-based Yankee Group said that Google Apps needs improved word processing, presentation software and spreadsheet applications before it can convince corporate IT managers to take the product seriously. And, she added, "that's not what Salesforce can teach them."

(Chris Kanaracus of the IDG News Service contributed to this story.)

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