Salesforce.com CRM Software Review
Data Center Reliability and Security
Salesforce.com’s hosted delivery infrastructure has been the subject of much negative publicity. Several repeated site outages and some highly public security breaches involving ADP (payroll processing) and Sun Trust (banking) (http://blog.washingtonpost.com/securityfix/2007/11/salesforcecom_acknowledges_dat.html). Since these incidents the on-demand CRM software leader appears to have taken proactive steps to address these issues and even added trust.salesforce.com to provide a public view of data center availability and operations. Checks during the creation of this document indicated one North American service center in difficulty for 8 hours due to an incorrect maintenance parameter.
To further allay the fears of potential customers, SFDC has also provided for Enterprise edition and above a real time database mirroring service. These customers also have access to a weekly export service (also available to Professional Edition users for a separate fee).
Overall SFDC has a comprehensive global data center infrastructure with data centers in North America, Europe and most recently in Asia Pacific. In May 2008, SFDC announced the creation of its first international data center in Singapore. The data center is expected to go live before the end of year and will support both Asia and North American customer according to statements made by SFDC. It is unclear at this stage whether the data centers will operate in an active-active fail-over mode.
Salesforce.com is SAS 70 audited which may provide some comfort to SEC governed enterprises in the United States for their Sarbanes Oxley, section 404 compliance requirements. It also holds TRUSTe privacy, VeriSign Secured and a certification from auditors Ernst & Young.
Salesforce.com does not offer a standard Service Level Agreement (SLA) within its contractual subscription agreement. It seems that in most cases only SFDC’s larger or more influential customers are able to secure contractual service level agreements. Thus, depending on the criticality of application availability in your environment, it is worth trying to determine from SFDC exactly what commitments they are prepared to make before you sign the contract.
Professional Services Support and Training
SFDC delivers professional services and training through Successforce Consulting and a network of partner organizations. Successforce Consulting is the banner under which SFDC provides professional services support for their solutions. A popular suite of support programs entitled “QuickStart” provide support for both new and existing customers. The QuickStart family of services includes:
QuickStart Assist: A remote or on-site service that helps new customers configure the SaaS application to address their key business processes;
QuickStart Optimize: A remote or on-site service that helps existing customers configure the application to address their key business processes.
SFDC will also provide customized services to support larger projects as well as the “Success Coach” - an online program of support offered to SFDC customers with 10 or fewer users.
Beyond application configuration SFDC offers separate packages to support data migration for organizations of less than 50 users. These offerings represent the classic migrations from competitive solutions (Act!, Goldmine, MS CRM and others). These services are reasonably priced between $2500 and $4500. This service does not include:
- Application configuration or setup
- Data cleansing or de-duplication
- Incremental test data migration imports beyond the single import provided in the package.
For implementations beyond 50 users a customized service proposal would be crafted by SFDC.
SFDC provides an outstanding array of online training materials that include a comprehensive online help manual, tutorials and best practice guidelines. The online training courses are well put together and easy to follow (if not just a little too slow for this user). SFDC will also customize training materials and craft a separate training program based on specific needs. SFDC has recently augmented this with a full certification program for Administrators offered through a series of publicly available seminars starting at $3000.
Salesforce.com offers unlimited case support for all editions. Response time (not resolution time) is guaranteed within two business days. Live phone support is available but the hours depend on the edition selected – with basic support (standard for Group, Professional and Enterprise) the hours are 5 days a week at 12 hours per day. Only at the Premier Support level is live phone support available 24/7. Premier Support is also given priority queue routing and toll free access. Customers are also given access to the online self service portal that allows cases to be submitted online and subsequently tracked.