Salesforce.com will announce a new initiative, called Force.com Sites, today at the end of the keynote by Marc Benioff, CEO, at the Dreamforce User Conference. They plan to extend their Force.com platform and compete with other platform as a service offerings like Google App Engine.
Till now, the Force.com platform served business users to develop apps that can be used internally within an organization. They have to tap into Force.com APIs from outside platforms to offer customer facing web apps. With the new initiative, it becomes easy for customers to allow the internet users to “interact” with their data.
Salesforce.com, which is expected to surpass 1 billion in revenues this year, is under severe pressure due to their falling stock prices. Plus, they are also facing tremendous pressure to diversify their offerings. Opening up their platform in this way is a smart move on their side to diversify their business. They can easily tap into their existing customer base to promote this new offering. Unlike Google App Engine, which has been used to develop any kind of cloud application, this platform will be more focussed around business tools offered by Salesforce. It could also enhance the existing ecosystem around the Force.com platform by allowing the vendors to offer web facing services from their Force.com applications. This helps the ecosystem flourish and, in turn, ensures growth to Salesforce.com business.
Salesforce plans to make money by charging the customers for the pageviews. The new platform will be available for developers as a preview version after the announcement today. The final rollout is expected to be sometime in 2009. With predictions about SaaS market doubling by 2012, Salesforce is attempting to position themselves to be a big force with their new Force.com initiative.