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Salesforce whips out private-public-ish 'iTunes app store' for enterprise IT

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Public-cloud preacher Salesforce.com will deliver a white-label version of its enterprise "app store" for private clouds – so businesses can use it to distribute software to staff.

The Marc Benioff-run online giant has dubbed the product Private AppExchange, which companies can individually brand and tailor as required. The system lets IT depts manage and distribute their customized programs and web services for use on mobile devices and desktop computers.

“With Salesforce Private AppExchange, now CIOs can quickly deliver a custom corporate app store - a one-stop shop for all of their enterprise apps," gushed Salesforce platform executive vice-president Mike Rosenbaum.

Private AppExchange goes live on November 1 for web and handheld gadgets; the ability to download apps to desktop machines due sometime in 2014. The service aimed at folks with enterprise, performance and unlimited licenses for the company's Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, Identity, Company Communities, Force and Chatter Plus.

It’s the third major repositioning of software-store AppExchange since it went live in 2006; it was billed by Benioff as the “iTunes of enterprise apps.”

Private AppExchange doesn't contradict the big boss's crusade for public cloud systems: the new service still runs on the Salesforce infrastructure and not as an on-premises installation or an instance inside someone else's data center.

'Aspirations are high'

Benioff has argued customers should not host their own clouds and instead surrender their data and applications to external service providers – such as his own company, natch. While Salesforce and other software-as-a-service outfits are used by companies thoroughly tired of Oracle and SAP, these business customers – unlike consumers – are not lured to app stores. AppExchange has notched up 1,996 programs in its marketplace since 2006, versus more than six million for Apple’s iTunes, although admittedly that comparison is like judging apples against pairs. Salesforce brags of two million downloads from its service.

But analysts at Gartner point to a slow move to public clouds. It reckons nearly half of enterprises will have hybrid cloud deployments – a mix of on- and off-premises hardware and software – by 2017.

“Actual deployments are low, but aspirations are high,” Gartner said.

The reasons for not relinquishing control are varied. Outages, such as Microsoft's Azure wobble this week, knock confidence as will revelations US spooks are snooping on data centers as well as private communications. ®

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