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Robert Liu[May 24, 2005]

Salesforce.com Rolls Out CustomForce 2.0, Announces Merrill Lynch as Customer

BY ROBERT LIU


NEW YORK -- Salesforce.com took its strategy to delve deeper into the enterprise to the streets of Manhattan on Tuesday as the CRM innovator rolled out the second leg of its on-demand operating environment as well as announcing financial services giant Merrill Lynch as a new marquee customer.


Before the media, analysts, customers and partners gathered for an event dubbed “CustomForce Day” at a midtown hotel, Salesforce.com Chairman and CEO Marc Benioff announced CustomForce 2.0, a toolkit that customers can use to customize its flagship Sforce portal platform. In addition, Benioff announced the signing of Merrill Lynch as its newest and (with as many as 5,000 subscribers) largest customer.

“Customers…are living in the application,” Benioff stated during his lunch-time speech. “We see the emergence of a new operating system. Just like Windows, you can have multiple applications. You can switch between multiple applications.”

The event comes as Salesforce.com, which made a name for itself picking off the small- to medium-sized business of legacy providers like Siebel, strives to make further in-roads in capturing more of the larger enterprise market. The first phase of the strategy came in April when it unveiled Sforce version 6.0, the latest iteration of the customer portal. To complement Sforce 6.0 and CustomForce 2.0, the company is also expected to deliver a more robust operating environment called MultiForce later this summer.

But contrary to some of the company’s previous public statements, MultiForce isn’t really an operating system as envisioned by the developer community, according to Salesforce.com’s Executive Vice President of Technology Parker Harris.

“It’s more conceptual,” Harris told TMCnet.

MultiForce itself, which the company first previewed back in March, is built using Java on the Linux platform. It isn’t designed to perform the functions of an existing operating environment like Windows or Red Hat but rather serve as a theoretic application environment.

As an example, Harris led a live demonstration of CustomForce 2.0 building new features like customized forecasting or even business processes into a customer’s portal. With new functionality like formulas, customers have “all the power of [Microsoft] Excel” at their disposal, Harris said.

Customforce 2.0 is expected to be available in June.


Robert Liu is executive editor at TMCnet.  Previously, he was executive editor at Jupitermedia and has also written for CNN, A&E, Dow Jones and Bloomberg.  He can be reached at rliu@tmcnet.com.


 

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