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Salesforce.com boosts CRM integration

As it looks to extend its platform, the CRM and SaaS company will release features to help users integrate with Oracle 11i, middleware vendors and legacy systems.

Continuing to promote its integration capabilities, Salesforce.com today detailed new features in its ApexConnect set of applications.

Based on AppExchange, its online directory of on-demand tools based on its Application Programming Interface (API).

It's a strategy that seems to be working, according to the company. During Salesforce.com's most recent fiscal quarter, the number of API transactions surpassed the number of page views on its CRM service for the first time.

"It is a sign that they're moving more toward becoming a platform company," said Liz Herbert, analyst with Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research. "It's probably a sign of them also moving up market."

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Built largely through serving smaller companies looking to get a CRM system up and running quickly, Salesforce.com is finding some success in larger enterprises. The company plans to release ConnectOracle, prebuilt integration with the Oracle 11i database, early next year for a $12,000 annual fee. The company already has an The ApexConnect program also features integration with a number of partners, including middleware vendors such as AboveAll and Informatica.

"People are looking to do heavier integration with SAP and Oracle," Herbert said. "These connectors were a starting point. In the past, they were doing a lot more point-to-point integrations. There's demand for the integration at a reasonable cost and reasonable time frame. I like that they're partnering with the integration specialists who can help."

The company also detailed its ConnectOut feature, which will become available as part of the Winter '07 release. ConnectOut will enable on-demand outbound messaging from Salesforce.com to other applications, middleware or a message bus. For example, if a salesperson reaches 150% of goal, the system can send a notification to Human Resources to order the appropriate rewards incentive. Or complex business processes that require input from multiple applications will be able to monitor Salesforce.com for triggers, rather than repeatedly having to poll the system.

"This is going to get them closer to complex real-time integration," Herbert said. "That's an issue with our large enterprise clients with complex needs. When they are doing on-demand integration, there are not a lot of examples of it being real time."

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