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I am scoping out a custom solution which encompasses a multi-step workflow built on Visualforce. I want to expose this solution to external customers.

The most natural way is to use customer portal, however my prospect is finding customer portal licences (all flavours) too expensive.

Would like to get peoples thoughts on building a custom authentication layer to access the visual force workflow. Basically custom objects to manage the user admin / passwords for the solution...

Other options I am considering;

  1. Building the app externally, then running it on Heroku and integrate the data back into Salesforce.

  2. Using customer chatter group to provide access to relevant visual force workflows. In essence deliver a url link into the customer chatter feed which allows them to work through the process… something like that

Any experiences / thoughts appreciated

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1 Answer

Every time I have reinvented the platform security model to get around user licensing costs, it has ended in tears before bedtime.

IMHO the platform security model does a hell of a lot and does it really well. Maybe you can look at other options before trying this route:

  • do feasibility and cost-benefit analyses on your re-engineering route vs integration, then use that to negotiate the licensing costs - Salesforce'd probably prefer you on platform than off,
  • consider Database.com; you can get users as first-class citizens for 10c per user-month,

Helps to be sure all other avenues are excluded before we dive into client-side :-)

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Thank you for quick response. Absolutely spot on with the feasibility part. Their current solution is based on share point which is still looking cheaper rather frustratingly... But cheap isn't always better! Database.com forgot about that one, will take a closer look. –  Michael Gill Feb 26 '13 at 18:09
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You should also talk to your Salesforce AE as the cost of sending you to another platform is much more expensive to SFDC than negotiating (reducing) the pricing on High Volume Customer Portal licenses. Pricing flexibility is dependent on recurring revenue and the long term benefits to both SFDC and your user platform adoption when considering providing less expensive licenses and it is always worth asking (and always negotiable). Reinventing the wheel because of license cost can usually be avoided. –  Mark Pond Feb 26 '13 at 18:53
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