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Salesforce turns website host

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Salesforce.com is offering another layer of wrapping for its core customer relationship management (CRM) software-as-a-service, hoping to expand its role as a service provider.

The company has announced official availability of Force.com Sites, which lets you build websites using Salesforce.com's Apex programming language and host them on its massive data farms. Force.com Sites was unveiled last December and has been in beta with 85 organizations since February.

To ramp up traffic, Salesforce.com is offering free hosting for sites serving up less than 250,000 page views a month to less than 100 users. The package includes one custom application, up to 10 customer objects per user, and a sandboxed development environment.

After that, there's an enterprise edition that provides 500,000 monthly page views for $50 per user and an unlimited edition that provides one million page views at $75 a user. You'll pay an extra $1,000 a per month for each additional batch of million page views, Salesforce.com said.

Salesforce.com hopes to hook Apex users through its Visualforce component framework that lets you program sites using HTML, Javascript, CSS, and Flash staples, which will tie back to the Salesforce.com platform's storage layer. Salesforce.com said it's providing extra tags so developers can tie their pages into the Salesforce.com platform's database.

But there's no support for programming using web-favorite PHP or Microsoft's .NET.

The company sees Force.com Sites as a natural extension of its CRM SaaS, giving users the ability to build things like forms for order fulfillment and applications for jobs, with data and information feeding back into customers' existing Salesforce.com applications.

The company claimed the American Red Cross, Dell, Haifords, Kaiser Permanente, Yahoo!, and Starbucks as participants during the beta phase. ®

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