Recently, we got an unexpected and unpleasant surprise. We use Salesforce as our CRM. Having gone through a Siebel deployment at a previous job, this was amazing. We signed up, didn’t install anything, setup a few users and BOOM! We were ready to go. Public cloud SaaS just made so much sense for small companies like ours.
But, we’ve seen some cracks in the Salesforce armor lately. First, even for small companies like ours, they expect annual contracts with pre-established user counts. What happened to the “pay-as-you-go” promise of Public Cloud? The Unlimited version costs $250/user/month if billed annually. For 1000 users, that’s $3MM/year. Paid upfront! Preset user counts typically results in over-provisioning and shelfware. Even we (small though we are) have too many users that we pay for and don’t use. Can you say traditional enterprise sale? And, if I were Salesforce, I could quickly get used to that kind of cashflow.
The bigger surprise for us came when we wanted access to OUR DATA. We found that API access to our own Salesforce data is metered and is very limited based on our [relatively small] user counts. To access our own data, we have to buy access. Again:
We have to pay a fee to Salesforce just so we can access OUR data.
Salesforce may have good reasons but, that’s just insane. No wonder customers increasingly deploy Hybrid or Private Cloud solutions where they have control over their own data. Multi-tenancy and IaaS increasingly benefit Salesforce rather than customers.
Overall, there’s no doubt that we benefit greatly from Public Cloud including Salesforce. But, we see our customers seriously thinking about Hybrid Cloud (particularly for database, authentication and authorization and, of course, integration with business systems). With costs like this compounded with the persistent security worries (myths), it’s hardly a surprise!