Still, Salesforce.com's move into these areas as well as marketing, where it has longtime partners in the form of companies such as Marketo, could be causing some angst.
Salesforce.com has spent about US$1 billion in total to purchase Buddy Media, which provides tools for delivering targeted marketing through social media sites, and Radian6, maker of social analytics software.
At Dreamforce, marketing partners may find out if Salesforce.com plans to go even further into their turf.
"Salesforce.com is a juggernaut," said Tien Tzuo, CEO of Zuora, a cloud subscription billing and commerce software vendor and Salesforce.com partner. "If you're a partner and you don't think they're taking a hard look at your space, you're being completely blind."
"Any partner that's not thinking about dealing with Salesforce.com as a potential competitor or acquirer," he added.
In order to survive, "you've got to produce something of high value, with a high barrier to entry, something that's really, really hard to do," said Tzuo, who was also one of Salesforce.com's early employees. "If they think your product's easy to reproduce, and it's important to them, you're screwed."
Zuora seems like more of an acquisition target for Salesforce.com, particularly given the fact that Benioff is an investor in the company.
All in with ERP?
While Salesforce.com's functional footprint has gotten much broader over time, it still isn't much of a direct player in ERP (enterprise resource planning) software, which is ruled by the likes of Oracle and SAP, as well as a wide range of more specialized companies, and is mostly run on-premises.
This year's Dreamforce may be remembered as the time when Salesforce.com first planted a firm stake in the ERP market.
For one, expect to hear a lot about the shape of its partnership with upstart cloud ERP vendor Workday, which like Salesforce.com has positioned itself as a fresh alternative to the status quo.
The partnership "has always been kind of vague," Forrester Research's Martens said. It will be interesting to see whether Salesforce.com decides to link up closely with Workday on its financials module, as well as the more-established HCM (human capital management) software for which it's mostly known, she added.
There's also the likes of Kenandy, a fairly new ERP startup focused on manufacturing and supply chain, which was built on top of Force.com.
Coupled with Salesforce.com's partnerships with larger ERP vendors such as Infor, "suddenly you're starting to have something that looks like a best-of-breed business suite," Martens said.