Lets Apex Fly

    October 10, 2006
    WebProNews Staff

Third party developers can write applications that will run on the architecture, as enabled through the Apex language and platform.

The buzzwords that get smacked around the Internet like so many shuttlecocks at an Olympic badminton event, like “web-based apps,” “software as a service,” and “web services” have become more than just promising statements of the future of productivity. Those promises are being fulfilled today.

Salesforce has been running its Dreamforce Conference this week, and somewhere company CEO Marc Benioff must be smiling. The AppExchange maintained by Salesforce offers over 400 applications that people like our readers use each day.

During the Conference, Benioff and company announced Apex, their new multi-tenant, shared architecture.

“Apex will unleash a new level of innovation as we provide’s on-demand infrastructure to developers worldwide as a service,” said Benioff. “No hardware, software, data centers, or infrastructure of any kind will be needed to build, distribute, and deliver on-demand applications: Apex and the AppExchange will make it all possible.”

More came from their statement:

Customers and developers will be able to use the full power of Apex to do everything from creating custom components, customizing and modifying existing code, and creating triggers and stored procedures, all the way to building and executing complex business logic, run entirely on’s multi-tenant service.

Apex will be a Java-like development language that is secure, easy and fast, and will be immediately familiar to any Java programmer. Anything built using Apex can be made available as a Web service and is accessible via SOAP and XML standards.

Rough Type blogger Nicholas Carr cited a new understanding of’s motives with regards to the announcement:

Last year, I questioned Salesforce’s decision to run its software-as-a-service application on its own infrastructure rather than have that infrastructure hosted by a hardware utility. Now, I understand the rationale for the decision: the infrastructure is the product. While Salesforce’s move opens up new opportunities for the firm, it also dramatically widens the competition it will face.

As Carr noted, that competition includes Google, Microsoft, and Amazon. All three companies have taken steps toward being the center of the universe when it comes to freeing applications from the desktop.

ZDNet’s Between The Lines blogger Dan Farber splashed some cold water on the announcement, as he remarked on a message from Salesforce competitor NetSuite:

As Benioff was heading on stage, I received an email from Zach Nelson, CEO of competitor NetSuite, who took issue with the claim that it is creating the world’s first on-demand pogramming language and platform. “It’s a shameless lie. We introduced SuiteScript, the first on-demand programming language, six months ago, and its predecessor (NetSuite Custom Code) over a year ago,” Nelson said.

With that kind of chippy eagerness to outdo each other, customers of firms like Salesforce should benefit from the ongoing battle to deliver solid, effective applications. Salesforce and the others do need to watch out for feature creep, to avoid packing too much unneeded functionality into a service.

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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.