Salesforce Targets Back-End Apps

You know the argument: SaaS applications are great for green field
deployments, but difficult or risky to integrate with those legacy
applications where all the really important data lives.

With its recent announcement of ApexConnect, an integration tool to
connect on-demand applications to back-end systems, analysts say has moved to stuff that bogeyman back in the closet and
has given SaaS enterprise-level capabilities.

The company said that ApexConnect integration services will be
built on Salesforce’s Apex programming language for multitenant
applications announced last month. The new tool will allow the
approximately 400 third-party applications on the company’s AppExchange
platform to work with legacy applications, Web services, and other
on-demand applications.

Apex uses a syntax that most Java programmers will find familiar and
allows any component or application created in it to be shared with any
other application on the AppExchange.

The new tools include ConnectOut, an outbound messaging API
that can orchestrate an event in an external system, such as SAP, based
on a trigger event in, said Kendall Collins, senior vice
president of marketing at Salesforce.

"It has the ability to kick off a process with an SAP or Oracle system," Collins said.

Another ApexConnect tool, ConnectOracle, will give I.T. the
capability to connect to any Oracle back office system to synchronize
data between Salesforce’s CRM application and Oracle’s ERP systems,
Collins said.

For example, a new account in Salesforce could be automatically
added to Oracle’s billing system or enable a business process such as
sending out invoices or delivery notices or matching a new order
against a previous discount schedule stored in a contract management

The Apex API will also allow middleware partners including Tibco, Informatica, Web Methods, IBM and Oracle, to connect to any part of Salesforce’s on- demand system.

Taken together, Salesforce’s SaaS platform, AppExchange
partners, and ApexConnect show SaaS encroaching on enterprise
capabilities and reaching a critical mass that will allow I.T. to build
end-to-end system processes, said Denis Pombriant, principal at Beagle

"One of the main themes that runs through the history of I.T.
is vendors and companies trying to figure out how to support business
processes the way they want to run them from the very beginning to the
very end," Pombriant said. "This is the end game."

The Apex programming language will be available in the first half of 2007 according to Salesforce officials.

"[Systems integrators] have been holding back, [on SaaS] waiting
to see what the next big technology shift is going to be. Announcements
like this that will help them decide," Pombriant said.

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