Salesforce.com releases the much-anticipated Apex platform today, which may lead to a long tail of advanced small niche solutions.
Posted Jan 16, 2007
Salesforce.com hit its deadline today with the release of the Apex on-demand platform. Apex, which will be delivered with Salesforce Winter '07, was announced in October 2006 at the company's Dreamforce conference. According to Salesforce.com, the release of Apex will advance both the depth and breadth of on-demand business applications by making it less risky and expensive for smaller companies to develop on-demand applications. Now that Apex has become available, the market will now see whether the platform and code will truly jump-start a fully on-demand world or if it will stand primarily as a tool for small businesses.
Ariel Kelman, senior director for Apex platform product marketing, explains that in the CRM space, "Only a small handful [of companies] have been successful at building large, growing on-demand business applications." Salesforce.com has been one of them. However, the Apex release will allow others to use the technology and programming language with the Apex Code that can enable companies to build their own solutions without infrastructure requirements. Kelman says that through the use of Apex, "Any developer can become the next Salesforce.com."
Apex is a multi-tenant platform through which users leverage identical versions of the salesforce.com software and hardware. The company cites the central benefit of multi-tenancy as the ability for users to receive upgrades automatically without damaging any previously built customizations or integrations. Additionally, partners and customers will be able to use the Apex Web Services API and real-time messaging and integration services. Apex Web Services API can help companies manage data relationships, and the real-time messaging service keeps companies updated on relevant business events. All Apex applications will be able to be shared through salesforce.com's AppExchange.
Denis Pombriant, founder and managing principal of Beagle Research, says that although the release carries no surprises as it delivers on the announcement made last fall, the incubation time between announcement and release may have been beneficial to the market at large. He explains that there is still a long education curve that needs to be fulfilled in on-demand software. "I think 2007 is going to be a big transition year and the company is in the position of doing some real education of the market place."
Salesforce.com says that the release of Apex follows a mission to allow on-demand to fill out every corner of the enterprise software space. Pombriant agrees that the platform will make it possible for small niche companies to develop, and it also promises the ability for vertical solutions to become more highly specialized through collaboration. Although Kelman pushes the message that other Salesforce.coms may appear, Pombriant says that this is more about the smaller players. Of Kelman's assertion, Pombriant says, "It's like saying, 'With this bat you can hit a home run.' That's true, but more often than not you win a game with base hits. With this application you put the bats in the hands of more people."
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