Salesforce.com extends cloud computing service

The company announces Force.com Sites, an extension to their existing service that lets businesses build external-facing Web sites.

Salesforce.com is expanding its cloud computing service with a new option that lets customers more easily build external Web sites.

The company is expected to announce the new service, called Force.com Sites, at its Dreamforce user conference on Monday in San Francisco.

The service extends the company's existing Force.com service, used to build internal business applications, to development and hosting of Web sites targeted at external users, said Kendall Collins, senior vice president of product marketing at Salesforce.com.

A boat mooring application built using Force.com Sites. Salesforce.com

"There are a lot of people out there who struggle with the infrastructure demands," he said. Force.com Sites lets Salesforce.com customers publish data and applications stored in Force.com to any Web site. Salesforce.com provides the cloud-based infrastructure services.

The company hopes that the service will greatly expand Salesforce.com's reach in a cloud computing marketplace that is rapidly expanding. Competitors to the service include Amazon.com, Rackspace, and Microsoft, which last week announced Windows Azure, a cloud computing extension to its Windows franchise.

Collins applauded Microsoft's announcement as a "validation for cloud computing." But he argues that with Azure, Microsoft is "moving complexity to the cloud. They're moving the old computing model to the cloud. There is still a tremendous amount of complexity that users have to manage. Force.com Sites lets customers make changes and get updates immediately without headaches. "

Force.com Sites is available in a developer preview mode. Collins said the service is expected to be generally available in 2009. The preview service is available in four tiered editions that support up to one million monthly page views. Additional page views can be added.

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