Dell, Salesforce.com deepen partnership around cloud app delivery

Salesforce.com Service Cloud software will be sold through Dell's cloud for small businesses

Dell is rounding out its cloud CRM (customer relationship management) service with the addition of Salesforce.com's Service Cloud customer-service software, the companies announced Wednesday.

The service joins Salesforce.com's core CRM sales application in Dell's Cloud Business Applications offering, which also incorporates the Boomi integration framework for connecting the software to on-premise systems or other cloud services.

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It's available now, but only in the U.S., Dell said. Package pricing begins at $565 per month, with implementation services starting at $8,000.

Salesforce.com and Dell's relationship, as well as Wednesday's announcement, makes sense for both the vendors and their customers, said analyst Denis Pombriant, managing principal of Beagle Research.

"For Dell, it gives them another way to add value to the relationship with their customers," he said. "Rather than just selling hardware, it's something that lets customers see them as a solution provider."

Meanwhile, the partnership opens up another channel of distribution for Salesforce.com, he said. "This business is all about distribution at this point. The more ways you've got to get to market the better."

Given the fairly small incremental cost to Salesforce.com of adding a new user, having a company like Dell expend effort reselling its products to the low end of the market is a good thing, Pombriant added.

Moreover, it's logical for Dell to choose the Service Cloud as its latest Salesforce.com offering, given the economy, Pombriant said. "It's still hard to get people to put down money for goods. It's more important than ever to do things to satisfy your customers and keep them from going elsewhere."

While smaller Dell customers may have less use for Service Cloud features such as the contact-center technology gained through Salesforce.com's 2008 acquisition of Instranet, its more recent purchase of Assistly provides a simpler help-desk platform that would be a good fit, Pombriant added.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris's e-mail address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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