Salesforce.com on Monday introduced ApexConnect, a new family of integration tools that connect its on-demand customer relationship management solution with back-office systems.
ApexConnect combines some earlier functionality — such as itsMicrosoft Office, Lotus Notes and CTI connectivity — with three new pieces of technology:
- ConnectOut, an on-demand outbound messaging application programming interface;
- ConnectOracle, which integrates Salesforce withOracle 11i; and
- A new ApexConnect category of integration partnerson the AppExchange.
Taken as a whole, ApexConnect will help customers facilitate a range of integration tasks, from simple data exchange between systems to the integration of complex business processes and disparate platforms, Ariel Kelman, director of product marketing at Salesforce.com, told CRM Buyer.
To illustrate, he offered the example of a hypothetical company with a Salesforce.com system integrated to its PeopleSoft Human Resources application.
“Let’s say the company wanted to be alerted every time asales rep reached 150 percent of quota,” he suggested. “Using ApexConnect, that company could create a workforce rule that triggers an alert when the sales rep closes the deal that takes him over 150 percent.”
That business process could have been integrated before now, he added, but an additional step would have been necessary. “The external system might have had to repeatedly check Salesforce to find out if data had changed,” he explained.
ApexConnect, he said, enables IT departments to build increasingly sophisticated business process integration.
Merging On-Demand, Legacy Apps
“It’s another arrow in the quiver that Salesforce.com users now have to bring together their on-demand CRM app with their legacy applications and those applications that reside behind the firewall,” Denis Pombriant, principal of Beagle Research, told CRM Buyer.
“There are a variety of ways to perform integration and, to some degree, the kind of integration you do depends on your starting points,” he said. For instance, there are certain appliances that feature blade servers that can integrate Salesforce.com with SAP.
“What Salesforce.com is providing with ApexConnect is the ability to use Salesforce.com tools and its programming language, Apex, to integrate business processes that are at least partly supported by traditional applications and by Salesforce.com,” said Pombriant.
Eliminating the Integration Pain
Most fundamental to ApexConnect is its multi-tenant platform, said Marc Benioff, chairman and CEO of Salesforce.com. “Single-tenant vendors are a major source of integration pain, as they continue to force upgrades that quickly break customers’ existing integrations.”
The three other developments integral to ApexConnect:
- ConnectOut, one of the core features of the Apex plaform, allows other applications — such as a middleware system, message bus or software application — to be notified of business events in Salesforce. Such events could include a new customer or a lost account or, as in Kelman’s example, a sales rep exceeding his quota.
The ConnectOut feature is scheduled for release as part of the Salesforce Winter 07 upgrade.
- ConnectOracle, which integrates Salesforce with Oracle 11i and features a pre-built customer master template and bidirectional synchronization of account information between Salesforce and Oracle 11i.
In earlier releases, Salesforce.com introduced native connectors for other applications including Office, Outlook, Lotus Notes and ConnectSAP.
ConnectOracle will be available in early 2007 to Salesforce Enterprise Edition and Unlimited Edition customers for a US$12,000 annual fee.
- The new ApexConnect category of integration partners on Salesforce.com’s AppExchange.
Currently, supported vendors include AboveAll, Business Objects, Bluewolf Group, Bridgewerx, Cast Iron, Composite Software, Data Backbone, Dynamic Ventures, forceAMP.com, ilink, Informatica, Integration Technologies, InvisibleCRM, Ipedo, Jitterbit, OpenAccess Software, OKERE, Pervasive, Tibco, Salescentrix, Scribe, Sesame Software, SGC Software, Synergex and TwoConnect.