Salesforce ups the ante

Apex language gives developers a new way to compete with the big players

Celebrating its eighth year and the 21st generation of CRM software as a service, Salesforce.com delivered on its 2006 promise to give ISVs and corporate developers a new programming language called Apex with its Winter ’07 release.

Apex will allow developers to build any kind of SaaS (Software as a Service) application on the Salesforce AppExchange platform. Because it is a fully hosted solution, Apex will also allow coders to create data models and automate business logic and user interfaces without needing to tune it to any specific hardware, database, or operating system.

Denis Pombriant, principal at Beagle Research, called Apex part of the New Garage movement that is bringing innovation to the smaller ISVs and hit larger ISVs wedded to older architectures, Pombriant said.

Like Siebel before them, Microsoft, Oracle, and SAP are trying to co-opt the innovation, engaging with customers only to convert them.

“That is the state we are in with these big companies. They are trying to blunt the impact by making it a checklist,” Pombriant said.

But there are still many IT professionals voicing objections to deploying a SaaS solution. Pitfalls still exist from storing critical data offline and from the possibility of downtime which requires ironclad SLAs with punitive provisions for lack of service, Pombriant said.

“Every customer will have to wrestle with their own minds about these kinds of objection and evaluate risk versus costs,” Pombriant said.

Apex is currently available as a beta preview for developers only, according to officials. An official release date for Apex has not been provided.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.