WSJ writes about a plan by Salesforce.com to offer its hosting infrastructure to other organisations who want to offer “utility computing”:
[The plan is] to let other software developers rent out their software using Salesforce.com’s computers. These software developers won’t have to buy hardware, worry about managing databases or protecting users’ security — as long as they pay Salesforce.com $50 for each person per month who taps into their software over the Internet.
In a year or two, Mr. Marc Benioff [CEO of Salesforce.com] envisions entrepreneurs around the world offering software globally from his company’s computer facilities in Sunnyvale, Calif. A company in India or China, for example, might create a program for managing architectural offices that a U.S. architect could use online. Such customers could draw from a broad range of software — with assurance that a reputable company is storing the information they transmit to its computers.
The first phase of Sforce, similarly, is designed to make Salesforce.com work better with other companies’ software. By early next year, Salesforce.com plans to let other companies assemble and offer utility-style services on its computers. Mr. Benioff, who calls the concept “client-service computing,” hopes to boost the users Salesforce.com serves from about 90,000 today to one million in 36 months, with 60% of those tapping into programs written by other companies.
So, the plan seems to build a platform others can use. Hard to say if it will work. USD 50 per user per month seems relatively high from the point of view of potential users in the emerging markets.