By eweek  |  Posted 2006-01-18 Print this article Print

How much do developers want their work automated? Im thinking of all the automated tasks in AppExchange. Where do you draw the line? [The thing] that motivate[s] a developer [is] being able to invent new things that look cool and that … user[s] of the product feel they are thrilled by. And you want to do as little work as possible. Thats why we have tools. We have an integrated development environment, we have ISPs that can host our servers. We dont want to learn any of that stuff. We want other people to do that. And so in developing the AppExchange itself, that was exactly the model we took. I do not want to put up my own database, so I could use Salesforces [database]. And I built an AppExchange application, which is AppExchange.com. And that actually is following the same model. I made tables in Salesforce, which instead of representing contacts and accounts and everything else, it represented application description and user reviews. Those are the tables that are inside of Salesforce, powering the AppExchange. So that meant I didnt have to spend any time hiring a database administrator, going to my IT department. The joke at Salesforce has always been that the time it would have taken the IT department at Salesforce to give me a database, we built the application. So developers love highly leveraged things like that. What we have to be able to do now is show and create awareness within the larger development community.
Are you done automating the functionality that you wanted to, or do you think theres a lot more to do?
Were never done, never done. I think that weve gone very, very far as it is today. Now actually [there are] more—Marc [Benioff, Salesforce.coms chairman and CEO,] had made mention of other AppExchange directories—things like that. We have for example on the site today RSS. Why? Because everyone should have RSS. Its a syndication technology. We could see if thats some of the technology we should have around applications, so other people can set up other directories…an enterprise may have its own list of applications. So there are a lot of other dimensions well be exploring. More and more opportunities will be developing. I am still confused about the level of integration AppExchange provides with third-party applications, and also out to legacy applications. [T]here was an application developed by Trillium, a data-cleansing app. Up until recently with the AppExchange, the way that Trillium would be integrated in Salesforce is that there would be a professional services engagement and somebody would go in and build, in essence, a connector that would go across the Net that would go in and connect a customer with the Trillium service. With the AppExchange, now you can go in and install from the AppExchange an interconnection between our Salesforce service and the Trillium service. So that application is actually the integration. So now integration is click, click, click. It doesnt require professional services to do the integration. Is this the same with legacy applications? There is no magic in this world. So something that has not been designed to be integrated with Web services, somebody has to do the work. I would expect we will see more and more applications added to the AppExchange that will be these integrations into other hosted software legacy systems, because smaller companies will say, "Gee, I know how to do that. I did it for two other companies. What if I package that and put it on the AppExchange market." Thats where were seeing AppExchange changing a lot of the dynamics of what was traditionally the integration world, and professional services into the information about the applications, which are connecting points. Who do you think has the capability to do something like AppExchange? Google [Inc.] can do anything they want to, but theyre not likely to go into this. I think this is a real Greenfield opportunity for us. We sort of have a history of innovation at such a rapid pace, that now were outdistancing [competitors]. And now I think that we are actually pulling ahead of that pack, and there will be people following in our draft. But with AppExchange and everything weve done with the ability to have customization and rapid development of applications, [it] just puts us now ahead. Weve talked about the ecosystem, and the fact that we have other partners working with us, that now starts creating momentum. That I think will pull us even further ahead of the pack. If you look [at] the partners of our competitors, theyre not as engaged in terms of being able to be integrated with what theyre doing. Part of this whole model with AppExchange and the platform is to use the network effect of everybody elses work. Next Page: Partners and the competition.


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