A company has a growing sales organization that recently topped 100 people. Upper management, including the senior VP of sales, are increasingly concerned that they don't know all the salespeople well and have no idea what they're doing with the data they download onto the laptops they take on the road. Does this sound like your company? If your sales organization uses Salesforce.com customer relationship management (CRM) software, a new product--OutProtect's Downloaded Data Guard software--can help you keep track of that downloaded data.

Downloaded Data Guard is a platform for securing Software as a Service (SaaS) applications. The first application OutProtect's co-founders Jim Kalishman and Chris Elbring targeted for protection by their platform is Salesforce.com, but their plan is to extend the platform to cover other SaaS applications.

When sales reps download data from Salesforce.com to their laptop, Downloaded Data Guard puts that data in a special container on the laptop and from then on tracks and/or blocks actions the salesperson performs against that data. The data is encrypted when stored on the laptop and can be deleted if the laptop is lost or stolen.

The Downloaded Data Guard platform was designed to allow some granularity in the actions users could perform on downloaded files; for example, administrators could configure the product to let users print files but not offload them onto USB drives. However, Kalishman and Elbring told me that almost without exception, customers wanted only two modes of operation: log mode (for CEOs), in which the user can perform any action but all activity is logged, and block mode (for everyone else, even the VP of sales), in which all actions are blocked except opening a file with Microsoft Excel, working with it, resaving it, and uploading it back to Salesforce.com. Thus, these two modes are what the product supports for Salesforce.com. I was surprised that customers didn't want more flexibility, and the OutProtect cofounders said it wasn't what they were expecting either, but there it is.

I also learned that Salesforce.com has a pretty cool method for enabling and encouraging third parties to extend its core functionality. According to Kalishman and Elbring, signing up as a Salesforce.com ISV partner and hooking into its API is a relatively simple process. You can then list and sell your Salesforce.com add-on application on the company's AppExchange Web site.