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Salesforce.com, Google Team On SMB Service

Salesforce.com and Google combined Salesforce.com's hosted CRM service with Google AdWords capabilities and target it at SMBs.

Salesforce.com and Google are taking their partnership a step further: They've collaborated on a version of Salesforce.com's hosted CRM coupled with Google AdWords perks.

This service—with the catchy name "Salesforce Group Edition featuring Google AdWords"—targets small and medium sized business, and will immediately replace Salesforce.com's current TEAM offering.

Execs from both companies will tout the new offering in San Francisco later today.

The service will cost $600 for five users per year and includes $50 of free AdWords credit, said Bruce Francis, Salesforce.com's vice president of corporate strategy. The Team edition lists for $995 for five users per year, often discounted to $605.

The idea is that small businesses will be able to easily find and purchase key words from their Salesforce.com interface and make their goods and services easily findable via Google searches going forward.

"There is just an enormous opportunity out there with millions of small businesses out there, and it makes a natural place for [Google and Salesforce.com] to collaborate more closely," Francis said. He said the two companies did considerable joint development on this release.

Google and Salesforce.com are hardly strangers. They announced a collaboration around AdWords last August. And there are already many de facto "mash ups" between such things as Google maps and Salesforce.com data, created by users and partners.

Given Google's high-flying status as Intenret search king and its vast coffers of cash, software companies are glomming onto the company like barnacles to a ship. One software exec said integration with AdWords and Google Apps is becoming the least common denominator for third parties. "Just like everyone integrates with Microsoft Outlook, now everyone will integrate with Google," he noted.

In fact, many say Google has become the go-to partner of choice for software vendors and partners who worry that Microsoft is becoming more competitor than ally. In that, Google fills a void left by the disappearance during the dot com bust of Netscape Communications.

Salesforce.com execs hinted that there will be more joint work coming. For software-as-a-service players like Salesforce.com, Google's recently announced Google Gears for endowing cloud-based services with offline capabilities, would make a natural additional integration point. Salesforce.com said there are many synergies between the two companies, but it is not talking about Google Gears yet.

At least some ISVs and solution providers see opportunities in developing for this melded Salesforce.com/Google world.

Appirio, for example, created Google Gadgets that let users view and aggregate Salesforce.com data on their personal Google home age. Those gadgets are free, but chief marketing officer Narinder Singh says his company has several solid ideas about how it can "monetize" them with add-on services and customization.

"It all depends on how creative the ISV is willing to be, " Singh said.

Many in the industry say Google has become the go-to partner of choice for the ISVs and other partners who worry that Microsoft's expanding stack is encroaching on their turf. In that way, Google is filling a void left with the disappearance during the dot com bust of Netscape Communications. But others say that Google itself, which is pushing into the enterprise with its search appliance and with alliances like this one could itself be a threat.

Google gives Salesforce.com cache among the Google-holics on the Web. Likewise, Salesforce.com, a for-pay business-oriented software service, gives Google entree into companies that may look askance at "free" ad-supported delivery models. Salesforce is also pushing its AppExchange as a full development environment for third-party business apps. That puts it even more at odds with Microsoft.

This joint work comes as Microsoft preps its own hosted CRM capabilities, due later this year. Early code of that product, code-named Titan, went to technology access partners in January with the final bits due in the fourth quarter. That release will include both hosted CRM Live and on-premises code, Microsoft has said.

Said one integrator source, the Redmond, Wash. giant hopes with its next CRM and ERP releases to "go after Salesforce.com and SAP at the same time," in hosted and on-premises worlds. That is no small feat since both are established incumbents in their respective fields. SAP is also working on its A1S hosted ERP for mid market companies.

And, Oracle, the second largest enterprise applications provider, is making waves in the hosted CRM realm with Siebel CRM On Demand, which costs $70 per user per month. Solution providers, surprised themselves, say that this offering is getting traction among users who can't ignore the price differential between it and Salesforce.com Unlimited Edition ($250 per user per month) and Enterprise Edition ($125 per user per month.)

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