touts online application delivery

SAN FRANCISCO (11/10/2003) - Marc Benioff, CEO of Inc., kicked off the company's first user and developer conference, Dreamforce, with a brief but significant peek into the future of delivering software as a service.

After reviewing the history and current status, 8,000 customers with 115,000 paid subscriptions, Benioff unveiled the Winter O4 release of and Sforce Version 2.0 platform.

Significant changes to the service include real-time alerts, dashboards, workflow automation, contract management, and on-the-fly data translation in 11 languages.

When Parker Harris, co-founder with Benioff of and senior vice president of research and development, took the stage and demonstrated another new feature, drag-and-drop customization of page layouts so developers can customize the look and feel of an application, a buzz of approval rippled across the auditorium.

The Sforce platform has been enhanced as well, adding support for custom objects, JavaScript, and .Net controls.

But the real news in the keynote was Benioff's assertion that the Sforce platform is "the industry's only on-demand application server."

The Sforce 2.0 platform will give developers the ability to use industry standard development tools such as Borland Software Corp.'s JBuilderX, BEA Systems Inc.'s Workshop, Sun Microsystems Inc.'s Java Studio, or Microsoft's .Net toolkit to write applications. However, Benioff took the concept of application development beyond that by saying will host that application as well.

"The service is the server. You can write a whole Java app to run on your Blackberry, and we will host it for you," Benioff said.

Benioff also highlighted a number of features not available in the Winter 04 version that will be coming next year such as new tabs for order and invoice tracking.

"Accounts receivable is the key to CRM," Benioff said.

The CEO explained that the company was using these AR features but that he could not convince Parker Harris, head of R&D, to release them commercially in the Winter 04 release.

Sforce 2.0 and Winter 04 release of will be available by the end of the month.

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