Salesforce.com Connects To Microsoft SharePoint - InformationWeek

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12/17/2014
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Salesforce.com Connects To Microsoft SharePoint

Salesforce Files Connect offers federated access to multiple content repositories. Microsoft OneDrive and Google Drive are next.

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Salesforce.com announced the general release of Salesforce Files Connect on Wednesday, delivering a federated search tool that will launch with access to Microsoft SharePoint.

Announced more than a year ago, Salesforce Files Connect took a long time to develop because accessing the files in content repositories while respecting their security regimes is easier said than done. Salesforce says Files Connect will eventually access myriad repositories, but for now the list includes Salesforce Files (the CRM vendor's own repository), plus SharePoint Online and SharePoint 2010 and 2013 systems deployed on premises.

"We're trying to help customers make better use of their files and make the whole process of working in our CRM system easier," said Mike Stone, senior VP of marketing for Salesforce Community Cloud. "For employees to be productive and efficient, they need access to files regardless of what infrastructure might be in place."

[Want more on Salesforce Wave? Read Analytics Showdown: Should Apps Be Simpler, Or Smarter?]

Files Connect will add access to Microsoft OneDrive for Business in February, and next up (at an unspecified date next year) will be Google OneDrive. Also on the horizon is a universal connector to content management systems supporting the CMIS (Content Management Interoperability Services) standard as well as, most likely, connections to cloud-based services such as Box and Dropbox. Salesforce wasn't making any commitments on these last options.

The idea with Files Connect is not only gaining access to files without moving them, but also bringing that content into the Salesforce feed and exposing it through mobile, social, and workflow capabilities. But here's where access gets tricky. Giving people access to only those files they have rights to see is tricky enough. Files Connect then has to ensure that those restrictions persist as users attempt to share files with others.

This screen grab shows a user downloading a PowerPoint deck from OneDrive using Files Connect.
This screen grab shows a user downloading a PowerPoint deck from OneDrive using Files Connect.

"We respect the security regimes in external repositories without having to recreate them in Salesforce Files," said Stone. "Controls are mapped to the Files system, but they continue to be managed and controlled by the source repositories."

Sales, marketing, and service processes are expected to gain flexibility and collaborative freedom with Files Connect in place. For example, salespeople will be able to share presentations and reference documents tied to particular prospects, customers, or types of customers within the Salesforce feed. And marketing constituents will be able to share creative assets without resorting to email attachments.

The Salesforce Files Connect service is included with Salesforce CRM, as are connections to cloud-based systems including SharePoint online and, when available, Microsoft OneDrive for Business and Google Drive. Connectors for SharePoint systems deployed on premises will cost $7 per user, per month.

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Doug Henschen is Executive Editor of InformationWeek, where he covers the intersection of enterprise applications with information management, business intelligence, big data and analytics. He previously served as editor in chief of Intelligent Enterprise, editor in chief of ... View Full Bio

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D. Henschen
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D. Henschen,
User Rank: Author
12/17/2014 | 12:01:43 PM
Re: Salesforce.com Connects To Microsoft SharePoint
SharePoint may be fading, but it's still far and away the most widely used option for content management going. As for charging for connections, that will be for on-premises repositories, Salesforce tells me. Cloud-based links will be free. The company stressed Files Connect is all about access without moving content, but the cost of connecting to on-premises CM is certainly a motivation to move that content into the cloud.
zerox203
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zerox203,
User Rank: Ninja
12/17/2014 | 11:52:05 AM
Re: Salesforce.com Connects To Microsoft SharePoint
While this is no doubt good for exsiting Salesforce customers, I'm skeptical if this is really a big deal or will really give them a boost in sales. Some of the decisions seem odd -  choosing Sharepoint as the first major partner, for one. I'm of the impression that Sharepoint's market share is shrinking, not growing. Is there that big a contigent of customers that own both and need this functionality? I also can't help but feel that the reliance on tying into existing security (while admittedly a necessary inclusion for some customers) is certain to cause hiccups in the long run. What happens when those security policies change on Google's or Microsoft's end? Will you have to wait for a patch for your Salesforce integration to work again?

The integration to all the additional services down the road is great (especially with the extensibility provided by open standards), but then the ending made it clear that Salesforce reserves the right to charge extra for these in the future. This seems like a feature your users will be happy to use once it's in front of them, not one that they'll be clamoring for - is that something most orgs will spend money on? I don't want to make it sound all bad - the image of a fully integrated SaaS platform where users can share files inline and get everything they need done without leaving the suite is a great one (and even allows for new workflows to exist)... maybe I'm just a little skeptical as to whether Salesforce is the one that it's going to happen on.
jagibbons
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jagibbons,
User Rank: Ninja
12/17/2014 | 9:07:25 AM
Spanning the gap
There has long been an architectural gap between SaaS solutions and on-premise solutions. In many cases, Salesforce as been one of the leading Shadow IT implementations. With this file connector capability, that gap between the corporate on-premise, secured document management system and the flexible, anyone can administer cloud solution is bridged. Integrations like this make long-term strategic IT portfolio decisions much easier. As the commercials have stated, and is better than or.
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