Menu pushes integration pushes integration

Hosted CRM service provider took another step forward last week in its strategy to build an online ecosystem of vendors that offer software as a service.

At its annual Dream-force user conference, the company unveiled, an application development toolkit for building online services for the Sforce platform. Peter Gassner, senior vice president and general manager at Sforce, positioned Customforce and Sforce as analogous to Microsoft Visual Basic application development tools for the .Net platform. "If you want to build a solution to connect to an ISV's application or to a custom application, you would use Customforce. com," he said.

The company also introduced the On-Demand Marketplace, a catalog of hosted services from 60 approved vendors. All of the vendors on the company's approved list use the Sforce set of APIs for integration with their solutions.

Although most industry analysts say is a market leader for hosted services, Andreas Bitterer, vice president, Technology Research Services at Meta Group, cautioned that still lacks the depth of CRM features available from enterprise players such as Siebel Systems Inc. He said that whereas other vendors are creating industry-specific vertical CRM solutions, is headed in the opposite direction.

"You could argue maybe it would be good to have a best practices version rather than a plain vanilla solution," Bitterer said.

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