Salesforce.com unveils multi-application tool

Online, on-demand subscription service saves companies hassle of building or customizing their own set of applications, company says.

Salesforce.com, a maker of customer relationship management software, has announced an online service designed to let companies use many applications at once--whether built in-house, by another vendor or a partner.

The on-demand subscription service--Multiforce--is meant to let customers access applications online and run them simultaneously rather than taking a client-server-software approach that calls for customers to build or customize their own set of applications.

Using the service, companies can share data models, security systems and user interfaces, said Phill Robinson, Salesforce.com senior vice president of global marketing.

But competitors, such as Siebel Systems, have a different take on Multiforce.

"Salesforce.com's stated strategy is 'no more software.' I think what they mean is, 'We don't want to write software for you. Do it yourself.' More and more customers tell us they want to look to one company to deliver a solution to them," Keith Raffel, Siebel group vice president of products, said in a statement.

Robinson, however, said Siebel operates on a client-server-software format, in which it's difficult to build or customize applications.

The Multiforce service will be an extension of Salesforce.com's Customforce, which is a customization tool. Multiforce will be part of Salesforce.com's next upgrade, Summer '05, scheduled for release in June.

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