deeper into enterprise PaaS, Salesforce went live in June with Free
Edition, offering free access to the platform for up to 100 users, and
Sites, allowing customers to build their own branded public-facing Web sites
that integrate with CRM and other apps on


Since sites
are hosted on Salesforce’s infrastructure, users obtain the common benefits of
cloud IT services — faster roll outs, as well as passing capital and operations
costs (configuration, management, reliability, and scalability) to the vendor.


How does
this impact Salesforce’s position in the market? Although Sites
offers a free edition with restrictions, users will be primarily existing
subscribers looking to push application data to the Web over Salesforce
servers. According to a product director at the company, Sites is well suited
to marketing and promotional online campaigns, while a preview program earlier
this year included sites for eCommerce, recruitment, inventory management,
ticketing and scheduling amongst others. Forrester’s PaaS taxonomy
places Salesforce in the predominant group of products designed for
transactional business (rather than content-oriented) applications, and Sites strengthens its position in this area.


The Free Edition will allow developers as well as savvy business users to
trial the platform indefinitely
targeted at divisional pilots. Similar to the
rapid traction gained in the CRM market through free trials, the
vendor will likely attract attention in this cost-conscious economy from both
business and IT groups looking for new PaaS alternatives for lightweight apps

but will still face conversion questions around TCO and vendor lock-in.