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Salesforce Pushes To Be an End-to-End Cloud

The company is expecting a wave of new-style applications out of the move

As a software-as-a-service pioneer Salesforce.com has always been fluffy, but it got even cloudier Monday when it introduced Force.com Sites, offering to let its customers build their public-facing web sites on Salesforce servers. Pushing to be an end-to-end cloud, both inside and out so to speak, the company is expecting a wave of new style applications out of the move and claims it has redefined CRM.

And it'll get another revenue stream since customers will pay for the number of page views that Salesforce serves up - a reported $1,000 a month for up to a million page views beyond what's included in a subscription.

Salesforce also pulled Amazon and Facebook into its cloud play.

It's proposing that its own users and ISVs leverage Amazon's S3 storage and Elastic Cloud compute capabilities along with Salesforce's database, logic and UI widgetry, accessing both sets of services through some newfangled Force.com for AWS tools that can be used to build apps that seamlessly span both clouds.

Then, with another new toolkit, applications can be written as Facebook widgets and released to the social network's 120 million users as an exercise in viral contagion.

Salesforce said S3 has been made natively available in the Force.com environment by wrapping S3's API and access methods in Apex code, the Force.com programming language.

Developers will be able to extend their Force.com applications with PHP or Ruby or pre-existing executables and libraries using EC2. The free new toolkit will include pre-built Amazon Machine Images (AMIs) - starting with PHP - that have the full context, including language runtimes, configurations and connections to associated API libraries, necessary to extend Force.com.

Salesforce says developers can use EC2 to simply instantiate the AMI and immediately begin development without any other configuration or installation procedures.

With Force.com Sites widgetry, customers are supposed to be able to extend Saleforce CRM applications and, say, create interactive web-to-lead forms that are tightly integrated with an internal business application.

The company also said that Force.com data and applications can be published on any web site and transform business applications into web sites by sharing a view of an application on a public web site.

Salesforce has been offering Google Apps since April and claims 5,000 customers are using the stuff. Its content management capability can now be used with Google Apps.

Salesforce is widely regarded these days as an acquisition target - a possible munchie for, oh, Oracle, Microsoft, SAP, Cisco or Google - so it has to prove that the on-demand model can succeed in the teeth of a recession. So far its deferred revenues have been down for the last two quarters, along with its severely bruised its stock price, making it potentially cheaper to get.

It reports its third-quarter result in mid-month.

Salesforce spends a lot on custom acquisition, which is why its profits are notoriously low, at least in Larry Ellison's book.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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