I’ve been working with Salesforce.com since 2005 and I’ve made a few eyebrow raising comparisons over the years…
Salesforce is like Microsoft Access on the web. It lets IT Admins create applications that scale.
Salesforce is the least powerful, most expensive on-demand platform in the world.
Here is the crazy part. I meant it all as a compliment! Salesforce figured out early on that regular business people, not software engineers, are the ones who know their business best. Giving non-developers the ability to customize or even create applications is worth a lot to a profitable company. Hence Salesforce costs more in every dimension (per user, per GB, etc.) than other platforms.
Wait, not every dimension. I’m betting that total cost of ownership (TCO) is lower on most Salesforce.com apps. If you’ve got a problem that fits the Salesforce UI paradigm, then it definitely saves money over Amazon or Google App Engine.
The most recent example is Salesforce rolling out Lightning (Aura framework) capabilities with a super secure container configuration called LockerService. This is great news because it prevents less skilled developers from accidentally creating security holes.
So when comparing TCO for on-demand platforms, make sure you are taking into account security, implementation, and support costs. You’ll be surprised how cost effective Access for the Web can be.