Dubbed "sforce," the company says the platform lets software engineers use the tools they love when writing programs.
The reason it can do so is because of four new strategic alliances with BEA Systems, Microsoft, Sun Microsystems and Borland. Because each partner is onboard, Salesforce said its sforce developers can use tools including Sun's Sun ONE Studio tools, Microsoft's Visual Studio .NET, Borland's JBuilder and BEA's WebLogic Workshop 8.1.
San Francisco-based Salesforce.com said it has been in development for a year and a half on the project. The company said sforce will provide core services including authentication, data management, document management and text search.
Based on the Java platform, sforce supports the XML, WSDL and SOAP protocols, for use in building applications for PDAs and smart phones as well as PCs.
"A key part of why we built these partnerships was to bring salesforce.com to developers within the platforms and environments they already know," said Mike Kreaden, salesforce.com director of product alliance.
Salesforce.com already has practice in this area boasting some 90,000 users. The company makes integrated software for automation, marketing automation and customer service and support management. It was also one of the first companies to deliver business applications over the Internet and letting customers pay a monthly subscription fee rather than buying the product. The company said developers of sforce-based applications will be able to deploy them under the same model.
The sforce Developer Program provides sample code, technical support, tools and salesforce.com Developer Edition. The development tool kit is free; applications served on the platform cost $50 per end user, plus $1 per megabyte per month. Developers don't pay anything until their apps go live.
Said Gross, "As of this morning, developers can sign up for free and start hacking away."