Salesforce.com, Cisco Partner on SMB Call-center Tech

Salesforce.com and Cisco Systems on Monday announced an offering for small and medium-size companies that integrates Salesforce.com's on-demand, customer-service software with Cisco's unified communications technology.

The Customer Interaction Cloud is aimed at businesses with between 30 and 300 sales representatives or call-center agents.

The offering, which ties Salesforce.com's Service Cloud 2 to Cisco's VoIP-based Unified Contact Center, will be generally available in the first quarter of 2010 and sold by both companies, according to a statement. Pricing wasn't immediately available.

The partnership is just the latest move by Salesforce.com to expand its technological footprint through partnerships, rather than internal development. Last week, it joined with Unit 4 Agresso to form FinancialForce.com, a new SaaS (software as a service) financials software company.

Also Monday, Salesforce.com announced an upcoming "five-minute upgrade" option for the Service Cloud. Customers will receive read-only access to the application during scheduled maintenance windows, save for a five-minute "cut-over time," according to a statement. This is made possible by Salesforce.com's mirrored data centers, the company said.

The option will "set a new standard" for on-demand software, Salesforce.com claimed.

Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff is likely to discuss the announcements in more detail during a presentation later Monday at an event in New York.

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