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What other company charges you for a test environment?


SalesForce.com Feature Comparsion By Edition

Gotta love it! See This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it ’s comments on The Official Salesforce Blog in response to their post People are talking about the Salesforce Sandbox (emphasis mine):

I think the sandbox is over hyped and over priced, in my personal opinion. We
use the sandbox right now because we have a major migration going on. So we’re
migrating a lot of customer data but did we "NEED" Sandbox to do this.

We could of done sample testing with the Dev environment however we would
miss those data anomalies that always shows up. So I agree with the fact you
would need this area for this type of migration, however I think the price of
that is ridiculous. What other company charges you for a test environment?

As for downloading and testing applications… let’s be real. Salesforce does a
great job where you can put an application in development mode so only admins or
those selected profiles can see the app. You don’t need a Sandbox for that!

Shorten project cycle time… agreed. Again, what other company charges for a
dev instance?

Bottom line… Unless you’re doing migrations/integrations leave sandbox to the
bigger kids.

Ouch!

Personally I think it is really bad form and just plain short sighted when a software company’s pricing policy places features out of reach of customers that can benefit merely as a means to get the more well-heeled customers to increase their spend. Much better to meet the needs of all customers and move the higher end customers up the price curve by include feature they require but no one else needs in the more expensive options/editions. 

In the case of the Sandbox, anyone and everyone doing customization could probably benefit from using their "Sandbox" feature, not just their "Universal" customers. Personally, I wouldn’t know for sure because I can’t justify the expense of a Universal account, although I think the Sandbox could be really beneficial for me.

Or, let me remind you of a question I asked just yesterday; Can you trust Saleforce.com to look for ways to actually meet your needs and not just look for ways to increase your spend?

UPDATE
I just read this: Salesforce.com’s Sandbox is $25 per license per month (PDF). And, because it’s not explicitly stated, I’ve got to assume that getting Sandbox requires that you pay for *all* users on an account given Saleforce.com’s other policies, and that Sandbox is only available for Enterprise edition customers, not for Team edition or Professional edition customers. Of course Universal edition customers get for free, but big whoop there! Just who do they think they are kidding, anyway?!?

5 Responses to “What other company charges you for a test environment?”

  • Jager McConnell responded:

    Hey there. Thanks for your feedback. We definitely do hear you and consider it moving forward when evaluating our own offerings.

    I personally used to do a lot of developing and certainly understand the value of a sandbox. But I also know what a pain in the neck it is to get a good sandbox going with a complex enterprise application that I’m testing against - and to say other vendors don’t charge is just looking the other way. Sure, other software vendors don’t necessarily charge for you to install their software on the other machine - but that doesn’t make it free for the company to deploy. You need hardware - hardware good enough to replicate the “real world”. Then there’s the time and effort to install all of the required software and patches - making sure it’s all working exactly like production. This is often the hardest part - making it act exactly the same… particularly hard if you aren’t using the exact same hardware configuration. Then you go and have to replicate all the data over - making sure that’s all set up right. And then you have to maintain it. Every time a patch comes out on any part of the stack in production, you’ve got to apply it to your sandbox. This takes time & money. Time and money that you simply get to avoid by having an on-demand sandbox.

    So to say “what other vendor charges for a test environment” seems unfair to me. Salesforce.com put a massive investment into creating a replicated environment for it’s Salesforce Sandbox offering. It’s got to be as fast. It’s got to be as secure - since with a push of a button you can push your data to sandbox. It’s got to be constantly maintained. We’ve got to put developers on it to keep improving it and making it better and better.

    If you’re talking about other on-demand vendors that have test environments, there really aren’t that many. There are always other on-demand vendors that say “we do that too” and put up a little test environment so they can check off the checkbox on the RFP along with us - but if you were able to look at our commitment to the Salesforce Sandbox and the infrastructure in place to make our test environment successful, I think you’ll see that we’re quite different. Does the infrastructure match production? With a push of a button can you replicate your entire setup or your setup with all data to the test environment? Can you test integrations and do every function that you can do on production in your test environment? Is it as secure? Is it as fast?

    So that’s just my two cents. I don’t disagree with you that Salesforce Sandbox may be too expensive for some of our customers. Just like some people find even our Team Edition pricing too expensive even though they need the features in Enterprise Edition.

    Again, the feedback is definitely welcome and we really do consider customer feedback when talking not only about what to build into our product - but also how much our products cost. So definitely appreciate the constructive criticism!

  • Mike Schinkel responded:

    Wow, my first comment from a Saleforce.com employee! Thanks Jager for stopping by.Wow, my first comment from a Saleforce.com employee! Thank Jager for stopping by. What’s your role at Saleforce.com?

    In reply, please note that I only emphasized the question Fifedog asked about “what other company charges”, I didn’t originally pose the question.

    But I do see a problem, and that is Salesforce.com’s policies are aimed at milking revenue, not at meeting customers needs. And I believe that most of your policies are counter productive for your company in the long run, which is quite an irony.

    You should be doing everything possible to make companies successful developing apps on your platform. That would *include* giving API access to *everyone*.

    If you focused on making customers successful and “Right-Pricing” your service to fit the needs of customers, you would have so many happy customers that were so intertwined with Salesforce.com they couldn’t leave even if they wanted to.

    But instead, you tax them and put up barriers to keep them from getting into the intertwined position.

    And I don’t buy the “hardware costs money” argument; it is called an “investment”; make one in your future. Besides, hardware is cheap these days.

    BTW, I have numerous other topics queued up ready to write on this and related topics. I’m sure they will cause quite a bit of angst within the ranks because I think Saleforce.com needs to completely rethink its strategy. The product is really good, but the pricing and policies suck and if not changed I believe we will see Salesforce.com fail in five to ten years.

    Stay tuned to my blog.

  • Simon Fell responded:

    You’re kidding right, most shrinkwrapper software i’ve looked at requires you to have valid licenses for every installation, regardless of its use (some of the stuff that’s bundled in MSDN being the exception, but MSDN ain’t exactly cheap either).

  • Mike Schinkel responded:

    Nope, not kidding. Listen, with shrinkwrapped software you buy a license and that’s it. With Salesforce.com you pay per user per month. Things really do start looking different when it changes from a capital purchase to an monthly overhead expense.

    For an Enterprise Edition with 100 users, the quoted rate is $15,000 per month. If you want to add the Sandbox, that’s another $2500 per month. Or $300,000 per year. For an Enterprise customer, that may feel like a drop in the bucket, I dunno. To me, if feels like real money.

    Let’s look at the Professional Edition with 10 users. I think it would be $790 per month. Another $250 per month for Sandbox. For a small business scratching and clawing to make ends meet, that’s another $6000 per year. But that assumes the Sandbox was even available to Professional edition users.

    So no, I’m not kidding.

  • Fred responded:

    “Nope, not kidding. Listen, with shrinkwrapped software you buy a license and that’s it. With Salesforce.com you pay per user per month. Things really do start looking different when it changes from a capital purchase to an monthly overhead expense.”

    This is exactly the type of short sighted attitude that plagues the small business world, and exactly why most of them sink. Yes a shrink wrapped package might cost less in the short term, say w/in 3 months. But what happens when (not if) the system goes down? How many man hours are needed to fix, update, maintain, and restore your broken system?

    Lets take your example of 10 users on their Pro Edition (which i happen to have at my co) at $780/user/year. Yearly negotiated fee after its all said and done is around $7100. That’s $7100 for a bulletproof system that I NEVER have to worry about upkeeping. Comparing to Goldmine for instance (which we used to use) Cost about $4000 “out the door” incl the server and about 10 users. That leaves me a wiggle space of $3100 to maintain my system for the first year which equates to about about 20 hours of consultant labor. For an entire year! I’d be lucky if I could get away for 40 hours/year.

    And as far as the “investment” comment goes, sheesh, I’ve never heard of software and hardware being called investments. A complete liability if you ask me.

    What’s it worth after 2 years? ha!

    Net net, we’ve had great success with sf.com and as a small company, I feel its the only way to go. My piece of mind is worth more than the maybe, $1k extra that i spend/year for a brilliant system that my sales guys actually like to use.

    PS, why the heck do you need a test environment for a group of 10 users to customize a standalone crm?

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