Mr Benioff’s new web-services venture, called sforce.com, indicates a deadly seriousness about reinventing the software industry. The idea is to extend his firm’s reach by popping the top off salesforce.com, and making the underlying computing infrastructure that is used to deliver its CRM service available to other software developers. They will be able to create and rent out software services of their own, at a cost of $50 per user per month. Mr Benioff hopes that these developers will sign up lots of new customers and jump-start a new market in web services. He has secured the backing of the top four sellers of web-services programming toolsMicrosoft, Sun, BEA and Borlandall of which are promoting web services as the future of software.
In short, instead of just supplying its own software service, Mr Benioff’s firm hopes to become the platform for many other such services. This was, he insists, his plan all along: salesforce.com is an example of the kind of service that can be delivered using sforce.com. We hope to spawn an industry based on a new model, he says. That is an ambitious goal. Maybe sforce.com will end up being used to extend salesforce.com’s features, or merely link it to other software, not as the basis for a new wave of software services, let alone a new industry. But if the past is any guide, Mr Benioff is probably on to something.
Says the sforce.com website: “Sforce is the first client/service application development utility, enabling enterprises to both extend salesforce.com and create new software-as-service solutions using market-leading development tools and platforms. Sforce provides a development platform with faster time to value, lower risk, and higher ROI than ever before. Sforce’s Web services framework eliminates many of the typical hardware and software requirements, allowing developers to extend salesforce.com and build new applications in a secure environment using familiar skills and tools.”
How can we apply these ideas in the context of what we are doing with our “SME Tech Utility” ideas?