One month into its existence as a public company, Salesforce.com Inc. is playing up the appeal of its hosted CRM offering for large organizations.

This week Salesforce.com released new versions of its CRM services. Included in the Summer ’04 line is an upgrade of the service designed for Salesforce.com’s largest and most complex CRM deployments.

Salesforce.com Enterprise Edition 2.0 is aimed at companies that plan to deploy the vendor’s CRM services enterprise-wide. It features a new architecture platform called Enterprise VLO — which stands for “very large organization.” The VLO architecture uses a multi-tenant design that lets each corporate customer have a secure, private, virtual database. A proprietary cache server stores organization and user preferences.

Large enterprises have been slow to adopt hosted CRM systems because of two big obstacles: limited integration and customization capabilities, according to AMR Research Inc. Salesforce.com lately has been working to clear those limitations.

One way is with sforce, a Web services API unveiled last June that lets developers link enterprise applications and data with their CRM deployment. Customers are using sforce to integrate their other applications, and partners are using the APIs to integrate their tools directly with Salesforce.com, wrote Laura Preslan, a research director at AMR Research, in a report published this spring.

Enterprise Edition 2.0 features a new version of sforce that provides access to new objects, previously unavailable objects and related data operations, according to Salesforce.com. The sforce 4.0 Web services API now includes an SQL-like interface for querying data; a Google-like syntax to search any text entered into the system; and a replication API for creating a mirror of salesforce.com data in a local database residing in the customer’s data center.

Salesforce.com also is making progress on the customization front. Earlier this year it added tools that let users rename standard tab names, create custom fields, embed controls and customize page layouts with drag-and-drop tools.

In its current editions (for users of all sizes, not just large enterprises) companies can now tailor the salesforce.com home page, and the content it displays, for different user groups. A new Web Tabs feature lets companies embed their own Web content, such as expense reports, into the Salesforce.com user interface.

Additionally, the vendor’s new Summer ’04 line of services includes Customer Self-Service Portal, which lets companies create a place for customers or employees to go for service and support. Summer ’04 also adds tools for tracking complex relationships, such as a contact who is involved with multiple accounts.

Salesforce.com, which went public in June, held its first financial analyst meeting this week at the New York Stock Exchange. Timed with the event, Salesforce.com announced that two large customers, Corporate Express and ADP, plan to expand their Salesforce.com deployments to 3,000 users.



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