back to article Salesforce turns website host

Salesforce.com is offering another layer of wrapping for its core customer relationship management (CRM) software-as-a-service, hoping to expand its role as a service provider. The company has announced official availability of Force.com Sites, which lets you build websites using Salesforce.com's Apex programming language and …

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Pretty darn expensive....

If you consider that you could build a pair of Xeon dual socket servers using 4 core chips for ~30K you could then host in house.

Even when you factor in a commercial grade database and web server, you'll still come out ahead.

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@Ian

But that is what cloud computing is about: No need to set up your own servers, no need to put up the infrastructure recommended beyond the servers themselves (server room, redundant power / internet connection, admins to pay) and moreover: no need to pay up front. If your web2.0 CRM idea you hosted on force.com fails, you will have lost only the time you invested and maybe a few bucks you paid for extra service.... If on the other hand customers think your app is the best thing since sliced bread, than you will also have no problem scaling up by using the massive salesforce infrastructure, which could be a problem if you are doing your own hosting.

On the other hand, the additional convenience of course has to be paid for. Whether this is really worth it is an individual trade-off, of course.

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Not that I am a salesforce fan..

Ian, you've slightly missed the point, people that use salesforce use it for it;s cloud features, so that is geo-resilient and you can easily scale your application without require you maintain or even care about infrastructure. I've heard the sandbox environment is pretty nice too. Also it has really nice work-flows.

Of course this is suitable for everyone, it's horse for courses.

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@Mr Gumby: Yes, sure...

...until you start developing your ecommerce app on those servers, and integrating it with your CRM, and your helpdesk and marketing tools, and tracking clickthroughs and all the rest. These are ALL features that arrive out-of-the-box or as easily bolted-on apps with Salesforce.com, but require significant extra expense and effort when rolling your own solution.

Not to mention the maintenance hassle and expense. Okay, I understand that a lot of the readers here ARE maintenance expense, so they're not going to take kindly to the suggestion that that could be saved on, but there it is. I know a hell of a lot of people who WERE spending all their time and effort maintaining, who are now free to spend more of their time developing. They're happier for it.

Plus that "free" option they're offering is a hell of a good chance to try out developing a web app "in the cloud", and see how well it works for yourself, rather than whinging and backbiting. It's hard to see how an in-house solution could possibly come out cheaper than free; they even pay for the electricity and bandwidth. No outlay whatsoever to start developing, and you only start paying for it once you put it into production and start getting serious numbers of visitors? Sounds like a decent deal to me...

But then, I have drunk deep of their kool-aid, so it's not like my opinion counts, is it? I mean, It's only an informed judgement based on significant experience...

Anyway. Just thought the alternative view ought to be represented. Cue the indignant spluttering from the entrenched nay-sayers. Flame on...

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Why...?

What is the point of this proprietry stuff when there are umpteen tried and tested web app evelopment stacks based on agreed standards available already?

> The framework includes a tag-based markup language, similar to HTML

I hate the tendancy towards hand rolled variations on a sucessful standard - what on earth is wrong with simply using HTML?

Salesfarce.com should stick to CRM software and stop looking silly pretending to be a programming language / framework author.

(same goes for amazon - go back to being an online book retailer and stop pretending you are an ISP)

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@Ian

The per user cost is for the platform rather than just the "Sites" functionality. There are people that are already using Salesforce and this new feature will allow them to create public facing websites in an MVC fashion where the model is the data they're already using in Salesforce.

I don't think the proposition is "come use Salesforce to host your website", it's more "If you're already using Salesforce and you'd like to expose some of your data (e.g. product catalogue) on a public website, you can do that now."

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@Ian Michael Gumby

Let's not forget the datacenter building, connectivity, power, cooling, switches, routers, infrastructure staff and monitoring; then add n+1 or n+2 redundancy to that lot.

There's more to running an enterprise site than hooking up a computer in your mom's basement.

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@AC

The mark-up language (Visualforce) is to cut down the time you spend making a page; rather than having to code everything on the page, you can quickly use the pre-built components. When someone view the page, it's rendered into HTML. It also has hooks so that displaying information pulled from the database (and possibly changed before display) is easy.

As in my earlier post, it's not Salesforce trying to be a webhost, it's about them letting their customer expose data within their system on a public website.

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Limits

"After that, there's an enterprise edition that provides 500,000 monthly page views for $50 per user and an unlimited edition that provides one million page views at $75 a user."

Presumably that's "unlimited" in the "actually, no, limited" sense then?

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@SFAOK

> it's not Salesforce trying to be a webhost, it's about them letting their customer expose data within their system on a public website.

There are widely used open standards for providing API's to data via the web including REST, SOAP and XML webservices.

This seems to be a customer lock-in strategy designed to allow salesforce.com to leverage customer CRM data held on their platform by provision of a proprietry value added services stack while actually denying the customer true open access to their data.

"After that, there's an enterprise edition that provides 500,000 monthly page views for $50 per user and an unlimited edition that provides one million page views at $75 a user."

I think we will see a lot more of this kind of stuff if more end-user data migrates to closed proprietry services in the cloud.

Wan't to access your data in the way that you want without restriction? Deploy on infrastructure you control and adopt solutions based around open standards.

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@AC

Salesforce actually implements all of those open standards you mention. I'm not disagreeing that they have a customer lock-in strategy, but really this announcement is just a way of allowing their customers to expose their data in an easy fashion. You could do it via those standards on your own hardware and all that entails, or you can just expose it on infrastructure you don't have to worry about.

"Wan't to access your data in the way that you want without restriction?"

For some customers, that's not their be-all-and-end-all. They're willing to compromise on this front to benefit on others. More fool them? They pays their money, they makes their choice...

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