Salesforce.com expands Apex, lands Dell

With its Winter '07 release, Salesforce.com extended its vision of becoming an on-demand platform vendor and won a 15,000-seat deal with Dell.

Salesforce.com today released the latest version of its flagship CRM product, while extending its footprint from application vendor to platform provider and picking up a major enterprise deal along the way.

Winter '07, the 21st release from the San Francisco-based company, features a new desktop console giving users single-click access to multiple views, enhanced activity management, computer telephony integration to its call center application with the help of integration partners, and AppExchange, an online repository of on-demand applications built on Salesforce.com's programming model.

"For Salesforce.com, this is our boldest step yet to becoming a platform company," said Kendall Collins, senior vice president of marketing.

There are currently more than 500 applications listed on the AppExchange. Salesforce.com also released to developers a preview version of

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Salesforce.com has seen sustained growth since it was founded eight years ago and now has 27,100 customers and 556,000 subscribers. In a morning address to partners, customers, press and analysts, CEO Marc Benioff crowed that Salesforce.com -- known for serving small and midsized businesses -- was making headway into larger organizations and recently added a 15,000-seat deal with Dell Inc., thanks partly to its Apex efforts.

"We're very committed to this new paradigm," Benioff said. "Salesforce continues to innovate in a market that's been known more for consolidation than innovation."

The acquisitions of vendors such as Siebel, PeopleSoft and Onyx have left industry watchers questioning where the Several executives today said they wanted "to see the next Salesforce.com," and three partners at the San Francisco launch event described their vertically oriented applications built on top of Salesforce.com. BlueWolf Group has created a customized version of Salesforce.com for the media field; Okere has created a tool for financial markets, leveraging Salesforce.com's relationship with Thompson financial; and Accenture has built a customized insurance application.

As part of the Apex preview for developers, Salesforce.com is releasing toolkits for Eclipse, Ajax and a new Apex developer wiki.

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