Salesforce.com plans further integration of applications around its online customer relationship management (CRM) suite in the upcoming release which will be available online in June.
Chief executive Marc Benioff said at a company event in San Francisco that the latest version will "allow our customers to provide a much greater level of integration with existing legacy systems".
Fred Landis, research director with analyst firm Frost & Sullivan, suggested that the latest release further highlights Salesforce.com's ambitions to be more than just a CRM provider.
"It is venturing into the on-demand, pervasive computing marketplace," he told vnunet.com.
However, the analyst warned that the application service provider (ASP) model is currently at the peak of a hype cycle. Established players in the enterprise applications market, such as Siebel and SAP, are paying attention and have launched competing offerings.
Salesforce.com, together with SAP, also profited from what Landis called "the Oracle and PeopleSoft market freeze", a reference to the takeover battle between the two companies that Oracle won in January.
Salesforce started out as an online CRM suite, but last year expanded by allowing customers to hook up custom applications to its system. The company thereby positioned itself as a platform for hosted enterprise applications.
To further position itself as an integration platform between existing enterprise applications, the upcoming release includes a data loader designed to help users import and export large chunks of data between legacy systems and their Salesforce.com accounts.
The upgrade also features a single sign-on technology, allowing customers to use their Windows or LDAP authentication information to log-in to Salesforce, while IT administrators can easily set and manage password policies.
In a related announcement, Salesforce.com also unveiled a free partner toolkit that allows companies to provide partners with access to sales leads and up-to-date information through a customised portal.
Salesforce.com claims to be the most successful example of an ASP, with 13,900 customers.
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