Salesforcecomcrm
Continuing its effort to reduce the cost and complexity of linking its
hosted CRM software to other applications, Salesforce.com Inc. recently
announced a series of additional integration capabilities.

The San Francisco-based vendor said it plans to offer a set of packaged
connectors for tying its customer relationship management tools to
Oracle Corp.’s E-Business Suite 11i back-office applications.

The Oracle connectors are due early next year and will support a
bidirectional flow of data to ensure that information stored in the two
product lines is synchronized, said Ariel Kelman, senior director of
platform product marketing at Salesforce.com. It already offers similar
hooks to SAP AG’s ERP applications, as well as to Office, Outlook and
Notes.

Salesforce.com is also adding an outbound messaging
interface that will let its applications automatically notify
third-party programs of transactions, such as the creation of a new
customer account.

In addition, the CRM vendor said that more than 25 other software
developers are using its newly named ApexConnect integration technology
to offer plug-and-play connections between their products and the
Salesforce.com software.

Joe Graves, I.T. director at Stratus Technologies Inc. in Maynard,
Mass., said he thinks the broader integration capabilities will help
expand the number of third-party vendors that offer products through
Salesforce.com’s AppExchange online marketplace.

However, AppExchange requires users to deal with multiple software
developers, not just Salesforce.com, Graves noted. He described that as
a downside for Stratus, a maker of fault-tolerant servers that runs
Salesforce.com’s applications as part of its lead-generation and sales
processes.

Stratus also uses Version 10.7 of Oracle’s E-Business Suite software
and is upgrading to the 11i release. But it already uses a custom-built
interface to connect the Oracle and Salesforce.com applications, Graves
said. The existing interface works so well, he added, that there would
have to be a special reason to buy the new packaged connectors.

Strong integration tools are necessary as Salesforce.com continues to
try to move "upmarket" into larger deployments, said Forrester Research
Inc. analyst Liz Herbert.

But the CRM vendor also needs to be less rigid on its pricing of $195
per month for each end user, she said, adding that large installations
can get very expensive.

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