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Salesforce.com goes unlimited

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9th Mar 2006
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Salesforce.com is pitching for bigger companies to join its subscriber base with the addition of a new Unlimited Edition monthly subscription that includes all the features of the Enterprise Edition and increases storage capacity and administrative help.

The Unlimited model allows users to have unlimited AppExchange applications (these are restricted to ten in Enterprise Edition), unlimited custom tabs (by summer 2006 - currently limited to 50, compared to ten in Enterprise Edition), and 2,000 custom objects (200 in Enterprise Edition). Unlimited Edition customers also have 'free' access to the salesforce.com sandbox (a development environment that mirrors but is separate from their deployment system, so that any mistakes made in development do not corrupt the live system), a higher level of storage and, access to 'premium' 24x7 support with a dedicated support contact.

The service comes with increased storage, providing 120 MB per user, up from 20 MB in the Enterprise Edition. It allows customers to store drawings and larger files from audio to video, as well as other types of data and media associated with running applications beyond CRM. Salesforce Sandbox, and Premium Support and Administration, are two services are now bundle with Unlimited Edition. Sandbox provides IT departments with a production environment to test and develop applications, as well as train employees to use them.

Unlimited Edition sells for $195 per user, monthly, compared with $125 per user for the Enterprise Edition.
Accoridng to Salesforce.com, a "handful" of customers are running Unlimited Edition already. "This is a fulfillment of our vision of 'the Business Web' - enabling companies of any size to manage, organize, and share all of their business information on demand," said Marc Benioff, Salesforce's chairman and chief executive.

Analysts gave a cautious approval to the new scheme. "That salesforce.com's customers have demanded something like this is a measure of the maturity of its business, and also a measure of the dependency that many customers now place on salesforce.com," noted Ovum's David Bradshaw. "It said that demand for Unlimited Edition came both from very large enterprises and from mid-sized and even smaller customers.

"One issue that salesforce.com has not tackled, and that it really needs to in the near future, is the opposite end of the scale - offering a 'platform only' licence to customers who want to use AppExchange applications without salesforce.com's CRM. For example, a customer might have 200 seats of CRM but another 2,000 staff who might want to use, say, a personnel application on salesforce.com's AppExchange. Salesforce.com's current licensing model can make this prohibitively expensive, as in theory all the additional 2,000 staff would have to license the CRM application as well, even though they don't intend to use it.

"Obviously there are some knotty problems in this - not least how salesforce.com can offer a cut-down licence without undermining its existing revenue stream. Given the centrality to the company's business model, it's not surprising that salesforce.com has found this a very difficult issue to tackle. Moreover, it will, sooner or later, be an issue for almost anyone entering the software-as-a-service market."

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