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Salesforce Heads Off Software At The PaaS

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Posted July 16, 2007 By Andy Patrizio     Feedback

SaaS gets a facelift to become Platform as a Service (PaaS).

With the change of seasons comes a change in

The company today released Salesforce Summer '07, which marks the availability of its Apex development language and a new buzzword to learn.

Software as a service (SAAS) is now passé. Say hello to Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), which is's on-demand applications combined with Apex, a Java-like programming language.

"The way you define platform-as-a-service is that, for the first time, you have a way to build apps as a service," explained Kendall Collins, senior vice president of product marketing for .

"You can be anywhere in the world, log in, write code that saves on our servers, tests and runs on our servers, and share that anywhere in the world."

Applications built using Apex code can be made available as a Web service and are accessible via SOAP and XML standards. Developers have been working with the new language since January.

Apex and PaaS together allow customers to either modify existing on-demand services or write and modify their own applications. All applications written with Apex are 100 percent multi-tenant, so they are automatically upgraded at the same time as the Salesforce service.

Summer '07 also adds multi-instances for development environments. In the Winter '06 release, added the ability to make an exact duplicate of a customer's production environment, so they could use it for testing purposes. Summer '07 now allows for multiple instances to do a variety of tests and development work.

Also new is what's called Enterprise Intelligent Workflow, which allows for the creation of complex rules and approvals by adding formulas in workflow. Any type of workflow process, from complex case assignment rules to price discount approvals can be custom written.

The intelligent workflow functions are for non-programmers who can't wrestle with Apex.

"Not every company has the developers and the prowess to write code," Collins told "Even within a company like Merrill Lynch, [programmers] may be able to write code but the business side may want to write the business rules. So our new workflow capability adds a variety of capabilities to add workflows and rules."

Kevin Edelmann, sales administrator for Delta Dental of Michigan, loves the new release for just that reason.

"You don't have to program it at all," he said. "It's just clicking and entering in some information. I'm excited about all the features I get to do out of the box and just configure it to meet our needs. Whether you have two users or a thousand, these features are going to be very valuable and you don't need to involve the IT department at all."

Mobile users will also find Summer '07 easier to use than previous products, thanks to a new search-based user interface. Users will be able to search reports through Salesforce Mobile. The report wizard has also been upgraded, and the solution knowledge has been updated to provide rich content and help.

Salesforce Summer '07 will be available in August.

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