Salesforce.com will not move beyond CRM

The company is working with partners who will offer other business applications

Salesforce.com does not plan to spread its wings to offer its large customer base other applications besides its customer relationship management (CRM) applications, a company executive said.

"We haven't even scratched the surface of the potential CRM market," said Polly Sumner, chief adoption officer and member of the executive management team at the enterprise cloud computing company.

Salesforce.com aims to become number one in market share in the CRM market in the major countries of the world, rather than branching out and applications for financial or human resources, she added.

"We have talked about it internally and decided not to," Sumner said.

However, Salesforce.com has a small fund which has invested in some startup application companies, she added.

The company expects that its AppExchange online marketplace for cloud computing applications will help address the diverse application requirements of enterprise customers, Sumner said.

She was in India this week to convince independent software developers (ISVs) in the country of the benefits of developing their applications to its Force.com platform for building and running business applications in the cloud.

The company's over 82,000 paying customers are potentially a large and global market for Indian ISVs, Sumner said. The company does not however resell these applications, apart from listing them on AppExchange.

Building an ecosystem is a critical component of Salesforce.com's strategy to make its platform a cloud computing standard, Sumner said. "We believe that the collaboration cloud is how we will spread across the enterprise, and then create even more demand for cloud computing applications that can be provided by our partners," she added.

The company however questions moves, including one in October by Intel, to drive interoperability and standards for cloud computing.

Intel said last month that it helped create the Open Data Center Alliance of more than 70 global businesses that will create a roadmap to drive interoperability, flexibility and industry standards for the cloud and next generation data centers. The Open Data Center Alliance represents more than US$50 billion in annual IT investment, the company said.

If earlier it was thought that the way to make applications interoperable was to integrate the lowest level of the application, the consumer Internet has showed that the integration can be done at the top as in a mashup, Sumner said. The mashup is the most popular integration of the Internet today, and nobody had to make a standard to make that happen, she added.

Salesforce.com already works and exchanges data with a large number of applications that are not on Force.com, including applications from Oracle, SAP, custom applications and other cloud applications, Sumner said. About 50 percent of the transaction volumes on Salesforce.com is machines calling machines, and applications calling applications running outside the Force.com cloud, she added.

It may be enough to use open APIs (application programming interfaces) and existing standards, rather than define new standards, Sumner said. "What we have out there is interoperable enough that we can just keep going," she added.

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