Is “Platform Edition” a reality?

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In April of 2006, I blogged about the need for Salesforce to adopt a new licensing scheme to accommodate a license to the platform only. In that post, I described what I felt to be the necessary components of the platform in that licensing model.

I remember hearing people at Dreamforce mention that this could become a reality soon, but I don’t recall hearing anything specific about it actually being deployed. However, I am seeing some hints in the application now that it’s been upgraded to Winter 07 that elude to it being a reality.

  • There is a field called License Type on the user record. This defaulted to “Salesforce” for all users (as far as I know). The Help explains that there are now 3 potential values here.
    • Salesforce License: Designed for users who require full access to standard CRM and AppExchange apps
    • Apex Platform Licenses: Designed for users who do not need standard CRM functionality. Users with an Apex Platform user license are entitled to use custom apps developed in your organization or installed from the AppExchange. In addition, they are entitled to use core platform functionality such as accounts, contacts, reports, dashboards, documents, and custom tabs.
    • Apex Platform One Licenses: Designed for users who are entitled to use only one custom app developed in your organization or installed from the AppExchange. The app is restricted to five custom tabs. In addition, they are entitled to use core platform functionality such as accounts, contacts, reports, dashboards, documents, and custom tabs.
  • There is a new standard App called Platform. This includes the Accounts, Contacts, Reports, Dashboards and Documents tabs.
  • In the Company Profile screen, there is now a list of Licenses for your organization. A record exists for each of the 3 license types I mention above.

I cannot find very much information on how one can buy an org with Apex Platform Licenses only. The ability to purchase a platform-only license like this would be huge. It would obviously provide a platform for companies to build apps on even though they aren’t interested in CRM (yet). It would also instantly provide a very solid, configurable back-end to a web application. This would compete with the MySQLs, Oracle’s, etc. of the world. A benefit over those guys is that you have an instant user interface and robust reporting tools to manage your application’s database.

Does anyone out there have additional information on this licensing model? If so, what capabilities are included? Suppose this license type was added to the Salesforce.com’s edition comparison chart, how would it look?

5 Comments »

  1. Steve Said,

    January 17, 2007 @ 3:51 pm

    This is huge. I look forward to them filling out the business model behind that picklist! I also noticed the new Appexchange package uploaded today for tracking and managing installs of your managed packages (http://www.salesforce.com/appexchange/detail_overview.jsp?id=a0330000002WKfiAAG). Seems to be targeted at people who will be selling apps as components or standalone apps.

  2. Mike Said,

    January 17, 2007 @ 5:19 pm

    Isn’t this the OEM Edition Salesforce announced last May?

    http://www.salesforce.com/newsevents/press-release.jsp?year=2006&month=May&id=060524-39

  3. Scott Hemmeter Said,

    January 17, 2007 @ 5:37 pm

    It’s not the same thing. The OEM edition must be purchased through an OEM provider. When you buy it, you are purchasing with the intent of using the OEM application. You may or may not use CRM. I discuss this here. Its in the same neighborhood as the Platform Edition, but not the same thing.

    The Platform Edition concept eliminates 3rd parties from the equation. It’s between you and Salesforce. When you buy it, you have the ability to build your own apps or then go ahead and purchase other ones. The idea is that you got the platform on your own and you intend to build your own functionality. You are not tied to Salesforce.com’s CRM or an OEM product.

    An analogy would be buying a copy of Microsoft Access now. You can buy it and then build the tables, forms, reports, macros, etc. for an application you want to create. Or you could use it as a back-end database for a web application. You didn’t need to go through an OEM to get it. Although, you could still go and purchase 3rd party apps that work on top of Access.

    The platform edition would be the same. Suppose I want to build the next del.icio.us. Why use a MySQL database? I could, instead, use Salesforce.com as my back-end. To do that, I’d need a license type that lets me buy the Salesforce.com platform without any of the CRM capabilities in it and with no applications already installed. By doing that, I have just outsourced my database infrastructure to Salesforce.com and got some killer admin tools to help me work with it.

    Make sense?

  4. Charlie Wood Said,

    January 17, 2007 @ 6:03 pm

    I absolutely agree that this would be huge. In fact, I think it’s necessary to get Salesforce where they want to be. But I’m worried about two things: pricing and API access.

    If pricing for Platform Edition is too high–say, higher than OEM Edition (at $25/month per seat) I think it could fail to get traction.

    And if it doesn’t come with SOAP API access, I’d say it’s a non-starter.

    But if Salesforce were to come out with a $25/month Platform Edition with full API access, I think they’d have a shot at being the Microsoft Windows of the web age.

    Regards,
    Charlie

  5. Scott Hemmeter Said,

    January 18, 2007 @ 8:42 am

    Agree. The API (and APEX Code when it’s out) is a must for this to work. That’s over half the reason that someone would want this in the first place.

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