Salesforce.com Takes SOA Offsite
Salesforce.com is doing to SOA what it has previously done to enterprise applications in general--taking them off of corporate servers. With Salesforce SOA, expected to be on the market by year's end, companies would build their own SOA-enabled applications using the Apex programming language. They would then run and manage those applications on the Salesforce.com platform, taking SOA offsite. By hosting their SOA applications offsite, companies could do away with the usual in-house IT development of architecture and middleware to support a range of legacy applications, according to Marc Benioff, chairman and CEO. "The journey to SOA shouldn't be slowed by the baggage of legacy software," Benioff says.
In conjunction with Salesforce SOA, the vendor will also release via AppExchange an online directory and network comprised of many different applications that run on Salesforce SOA. A company that doesn't want to build or implement its own specific software could pick and choose from a list of enterprise resource management, analysis software, customer relationship management software and the like to round out their complement of SOA-linked applications.
The offering is unique in the SOA field, says Rebecca Wettemann, vice president of research at Nucleus Research. It gives companies a way to wrest appropriate ROI from linking their applications via SOA. "This is cool stuff," Wettemann says. "We've seen the challenge of getting ROI that that scales appropriately with the SOA investment."
SOA isn't a technology in and of itself; rather, it's a way to loosely couple a company's varied software systems, regardless of platform or protocol. The middleware, dubbed SOA, links all a company's applications in an interconnected web. It acts as a universal translator that transforms the many proprietary protocols currently in use around the world into a standards-based universal interface.
But SOA can be difficult to deploy due in part to the number of different legacy applications a company must link. Rather than deploying SOA in-house, the salesforce.com model allows companies to access this linking architecture remotely. "So I could take my internal Web services, my Oracle, my legacy-whatever, and integrate them using this external service," Wettemann says.
These enterprise applications could be also be integrated through the Salesforce SOA with useful offsite applications like Google Earth or FedEx, she says. "So the IT department can focus on what it does best--developing applications--and it can outsource what it doesn't enjoy, the babysitting of them."
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