Could Apex Be Used

By eweek  |  Posted 2006-10-11 Print this article Print

to Replace Almost Everything?"> had some uptime issues in 2005 that seem to be settled now. But if, as a developer, I am going to rely on you for a hosted infrastructure, why should I not be concerned that there are going to be more uptime issues, particularly with more weight on you as a platform provider? Obviously thats fundamental to everything we do, and thats why issues earlier in the year were so important for me to address very quickly. If I look at what happened, we moved into a new data center and we were tuning, and then we were scaling off some vertically scaled equipment down to smaller computers and separating things out, and breaking up one of the databases.
A bunch of things have happened since then. Weve hired one of the top people from eBay, who ran their service … Then [ is also] putting out there, to say we stand behind it and let us show you our availability and transaction numbers.
So all I can say is were putting the information out there and were proving our reliability every day. We have deep conversations with anyone who wants to talk to us about what were doing to ensure availability going forward, and reliability and scalability. I think the numbers and the track record stand on their own. And we can certainly explain the issues at the beginning of the year and I dont see them ever happening again. I think the team we have in place can be put against any other team ... And we keep getting stronger. I spoke with a customer yesterday and asked him what he thought he would replace using Apex. He said spreadsheets, access databases and, down the line, homegrown applications. What is your vision of what people will replace in the enterprise with Apex? I think they could replace almost everything. And thats a big statement. ERP applications, while you could build them on our platform, will probably be the last to go. We use Oracle financials, others use SAP (there are only a few out there), but [ Chief Financial Officer] Steve Cakebread is not going to jump on the next brand-new shiny penny for running our financials as a public company. That being said, there are tons of spreadsheets flying around in e-mail. Its when people need to collaborate in the enterprise where our value is huge. So to me its really database-backed applications—anywhere youre tracking information and you need that collaboration—those will be the first to go and the easiest to replace. Is there a point where being a platform company eclipses what youre doing with CRM (customer relationship management)? Theyre very complementary … If you look at how our customers use our service, theyre all using the platform. Everyone is using something differently. Deutsche Bank tied our service into their back-end systems to transfer money around. So theyre leveraging our platform to make our CRM work effectively in their company—thats really why the platform evolved. When we started the company we consciously said were not going to build a platform and then decide what were going to do with it. We said were going to build CRM applications, and then the platform evolved out of that. … Were a CRM company and were going to evolve over time to be a platform company, but were not going to leave our customers behind in the process. So what does that mean, to evolve over time? Is there a point where you say youre not really focusing on applications anymore? What it means is that next year, 25 percent of my developers are going to build our applications on our platform. And the following year maybe its 50 percent. So were going to continue to create great applications because we want to prove the platform and we want to have people use those applications and be useful. What it means is were going to keep building ourselves on Apex, and were going to keep pushing that platform forward. And the solutions out there will proliferate. Are there any challenges to this whole platform play? There are huge challenges. Scalability is a huge challenge. And making sure we dont expose something that we regret … where it makes it much more difficult for me to guarantee upgradability. Were very careful about that. Thats why weve talked about this language for a long time, and its taken us this long to feel comfortable internally... Then theres a whole bunch of tactical things, like we have to build developer tools, we have to expose APIs so other people can build tools [and] then there are debuggers … Those are huge challenges, so well be careful about how we evolve it … we have to let this out and see what happens with it. When we let out Web integration links, which are contact-sensitive links—those are very simple technologies—theres not much going on there, but people took those and did wild things with them, things we never expected. When we let Apex out there, what are people going to do? I want to see what they do and start to evolve when I see that. Its all about intelligent reaction. Let something out, listen, react and iterate from there. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis in programming environments and developer tools.


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