Salesforce.com has opened its code to outsidedevelopers for the first time with the introduction ofApex, a new multi-tenant programming language andplatform. Companies will be able to useApex to tailor or reprogram their Salesforce.comdeployments or build entirely new components withinthe application from scratch.
Salesforce.com previously has offered developer tools and platforms with limited flexibility for companies that wanted to write applications for its third-party network.
The introduction of Apex could level theplaying field for on-demand offerings and on-premise applications, Yankee Group CRM analyst Sheryl Kingstone told CRM Buyer. Up to now, most largeenterprises have tended to remain with legacy software,which is far easier to customize. One downside, of course, is that upgrading suchhighly customized applications is very difficult.
The introduction of Apex opens up Salesforce.com and allowsusers to heavily customize the application andworkflow. “It just about knocks out whatevercompetitive advantage the premise-based applicationoffers,” Kingstone said.
A Significant Move
The move to open its code is one of the most significant stepsSalesforce.com has made since its introduction as astart-up more than seven years ago, said Kingstone.
Not surprisingly, Salesforce.com CEO and Chairman MarcBenioff, who has been known to indulge in hyperbolein the past, agreed. “This is the most importantannouncement Salesforce.com has ever made,” he said.”With Apex, developers from our ISVs (independent software vendors) and customerswill be able to write code that runs natively on ourinfrastructure, providing them with the samecapability as our own Salesforce.com developers.”
Apex augurs the beginning of anentirely new development cycle for the company, according to Kingstone. Nextyear, “Salesforce.com will beintroducing more intelligent processes and deepcustomization tools,” she predicted. “Users will be able to embedpersonal intelligence into the application.”
Kingstone expects that further down the road, larger userswill be able to syndicate the applications they buildto their own customers.
How It Works
Apex will run on Dell and Intel architecture inSalesforce.com data centers using Dell’s new 1x50architecture. Code that is created with Apex will bemulti-tenant and encapsulated to protect customerimplementations against flaws, and automaticallyupgraded in conjunction with Salesforce.com, thecompany explains.
Apex will be a Java-like development language.Anything built using it can be made available as a Webservice and is accessible via SOAP (simple object access protocol) and XML (extensible markup language) standards,Salesforce.com also said. The Apex platform willprovide capabilities for embedded mashups, analytics,mobility, workflow and approvals, and deliverintelligence with a new API (application program interface). Apex components andapplications can be shared viaSalesforce.com’s AppExchange directory.
The Apex platform is scheduled for availability inconjunction with Salesforce Winter ’07, and the Apexlanguage is scheduled for availability in the firsthalf of 2007.