When you buy AppExchange products or third-party products they often come with Salesforce licences, typicslly Salesforce Platform licences that then show up in your org under 'company information'.

From reading around on how the ISVForce and OEM App model works, it appears that these licences are OEM or Embedded licences and so are not quite the same as the non-OEM licences that you buy directly from Salesforce - even though they are indistinguishable in the company information licence count.

So am I right in thinking:

  • The licences that come with AppExchange/third-party products are always OEM licences
  • And hence they do not give the end user the right to add additional custom objects


This Salesforce help page:

Salesforce - OEM User License Comparison


End users can’t: develop applications or extend applications by creating additional custom objects
The limit of 400 custom objects applies to the primary app offering. Subscribers cannot create their own custom objects.

This seems pretty clear - OEM licences do not let end users add their own custom objeects - but I can find hardly any mention of this important fact anywhere else and so I'm wondering it this info is out of date.

2 Answers 2


Great question.

First, watch this video: Ready to Partner with Salesforce.com (ISVforce or OEM)? (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_oV9LthQ5O0)

ISV companies can sell licenses to their own apps (which I would say is the most common - this would be using the AppExchange to sell, say, 5 licenses of a managed package app. With new AppExchange checkout features from Stripe (formerly from Recurly) you can charge easily for those.

Some companies want to make money on selling CRM licenses while offering customers a discount on their CRM licenses. These are custom licenses (ISV) that are contractually limited to certain objects and permissions. There is a lot of trust here, and salesforce.com can verify at any time that the end-customer is using only objects that are allowed.

As far as charging for those, the ISV charges "twice" for the product - one fee per app-license and one fee per CRM-license... but generally this is presented to the customer as one charge.

The customer can use this ISV app as part of a larger org, and can sign up for this app using Trialforce, an AppExchange free trial, an AppExchange install with a trial period expiration date, and more. This is for an app that will fit into a larger business process.

That's pretty much the ISV side of it.

For OEM:

OEM and Embedded are the same thing (in case that comes up)

OEM licenses are for the internal app. For portals, consider ISV Portal licenses (yes, the naming becomes confusing). Of note, ISV Portal licenses don't have Chatter enabled and are required to interact via a Force.com site. Think of them as Authenticated Website or Customer Portal licenses. (http://www.salesforce.com/us/developer/docs/packagingGuide/Content/oem_user_license_comparison.htm)

OEM allows someone to use Salesforce as a controlled container for presenting an app. I'm working on an app right now, and have decided on the OEM model because I want the end-users to be able to do zero customization. I will have one admin user who will see that it is Salesforce, but all other users will interact with the app via a custom interface built in a Force.com Site.

Here is my big concern, and the place where I'm trying to do more research: Chatter Plus licenses are $15 per month (for just CRM). I'm trying to find out how much salesforce.com will charge me for the OEM licenses. I'm hoping that I will be charged less than $15 per user per month for each OEM license. And, of course, I need to add my own fee on top of that.

So to answer your question directly: OEM licenses allow the customer to assign a user to my app. Whereas an ISV app will allow me to add more custom fields to objects included in that app, an OEM user cannot see any fields other than those listed in my application. ONLY things in my namespace are available.

Another outstanding item on my list is to ask: What can the full Salesforce System Administrator of the org I'm giving my customer do? Every org requires at least one full user, and I'm waiting to hear back on what permissions that user has. It's probably irrelevant, as that person can't add more licenses to the org, and no users can see any customization the admin does, but it's worth looking into.

So a more direct answer: ISV app licenses are "bigger" than OEM licenses. An OEM agreement may sit as part of an ISV agreement. OEM licenses are not something commonly sold on the AppExchange. The AppExchange is for plugins to extend Salesforce. OEM apps are intended to be the complete representation of the app - that happens to use Salesforce as its platform, so the users may not even know they're using Salesforce if it is configured that way.

I hope this helps.

  • Thanks for the detailed answer. In this bit: "Some companies want to make money on selling CRM licenses while offering customers a discount on their CRM licenses. These are custom licenses (ISV) that are contractually limited to certain objects and permissions." ... where is the contract? are there standard terms or is it different for every vendor?
    – codeulike
    Commented Feb 26, 2014 at 20:48
  • Also, summing up, would it be accurate to say that "unless your licence comes directly from Salesforce, its unlikely to allow the end user to add custom objects"?
    – codeulike
    Commented Feb 26, 2014 at 20:49
  • 1
    To answer the first question: Custom for each ISV. See your technical enablement manager for more information. Commented Feb 27, 2014 at 3:15
  • For the second: I wouldn't say that is accurate, just because I think the majority of CRM licenses sold by ISVs do allow access to full objects - I should have been specific to say that it takes negotiation to offer contractually limited licenses. So don't sum it up that way without talking to your TEM. Commented Feb 27, 2014 at 3:16
  • @DavidSchach do you know if there is a full list of OEM's available? Also, did Salesforce offer to charge you less or more than the $15? Thanks! Commented Jan 17, 2017 at 14:23

A really good breakdown of the difference between OEM and ISV has been posted on Linkedin here and copied below

Key differences: (1) the app creator's contracts with Salesforce and end users (2) what end users receive. When you sell an app under an OEM agreement, you are selling the end user BOTH Salesforce Platform user licenses AND package licenses. A Salesforce Platform license has no access to any CRM objects other than Accounts and Contacts.

The purpose of an OEM app is to use the Force.com Platform to build a full custom application experience, while an ISVforce app sold on the AppExchange is meant to be an add-on app that existing Salesforce users can add-on to their existing experience. A Salesforce Partner can leverage both of these models simultaneously with different products.

OEM example: an end user wishing to buy 100 licenses of a Salesforce OEM Partner's application will typically get 2 Full Salesforce licenses and 98 Salesforce Platform licenses, plus 100 licenses (or a site-license) of one or more managed packages that constitute the OEM partner's "application". This combination of a Platform license plus Managed Package license(s) may cost something like $35/user/month, $150/user/month --- totally varies depending on the OEM partner's contract with salesforce. The OEM partner then pays Salesforce a fixed amount for the purchased Platform licenses, and the OEM partner keeps the rest.

ISVforce app example: an end user is the admin of an Enterprise-Edition Salesforce CRM org with 100 licenses, where each user is paying $125/user/month to use Salesforce CRM. The end user goes to the AppExchange and sees a Lead dupe-blocking app from an ISV partner that costs $5/user/month or $100/org/month (for a site license) The end user elects to purchase 5 user licenses of the Lead dupe-blocking app, and then pays the ISV partner the the $25/month, and assigns the 5 licenses to specific users in their org.

This seems to suggest a difference is around what users can do with the licenses - those extending (i.e. using ISVForce) can extend the platform further and those using OEM cannot based upon the intended use case of the app.

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