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Is SalesForce.com TRUSTWORTHY, Redux?

Peter Coffee, one of the two men (formerly) from the media I respect the most[1] just blogged about how code running on Apex "is safe" from prying eyes because you never install at a customers site. However, he then goes on to say:

The only third party that could possibly access the actual code — salesforce.com, for example — is the one with the greatest interest in helping to protect it, and thus protecting the reputation of the multi-tenant platform that supports it.

Well, as I blogged previous (but unfortunately have yet to have the time to follow up), I have serious concerns about Salesforce.com not always putting it’s interests ahead of its customers. Whereas a customer using a company’s code illegally might result in an opportunity lost cost, the overall cost to the company is rarely if ever business threatening[2]. On the other hand, if Saleforce.com decides that an AppExchange vendor is occupying a spot that Saleforce.com would like to occupy, Saleforce.com can put them out of business like that.

While I do trust Peter Coffee as I implied above, he doesn’t make the decisions at Salesforce.com, Marc Benioff does. And based on everything I’ve seen, I don’t trust the cabal led by Marc Benioff not to have situational ethics when a significant market benefit might potentially be gained.

But then, maybe that’s just me.

  1. The other person being Jon Udell
  2. If it is business threatening, then the business has much bigger problems that management should be more concerned about.

Why APEX, and why not Java, C#, VB.NET, PHP, Ruby, etc. etc.?

Stuck on the Apex?
Dog Precariously Perched on Apex
Photo by hangdog

I understand from Investor’s Business Daily via SalesforceWatch that Salesforce.com’s new secret sauce is a programming language called "Apex."  My question is, "Why create YAPL?" (Yet Another Programming Language)  Why not leverage one of the many excellent programming languages that already exist? 

Why create the need to learn a whole new language when they could have leveraged one that already exists?  After all, most of the functionality is in the class library; why not just create a class library for Java or C#/VB.NET or PHP or Ruby instead of an entire new language?  Or why not buy Delphi for god’s sake?!?

Naybe Saleforce.com is just trying to increase revenues by planning to charge for training and certification?!?  There goes me not trusting Salesforce.com’s motivations again. Or maybe it is just arrogance and/or delusions of grandeur on their part?

But bottom line this is a foolish strategy. Clearly Salesforce.com wants to see more apps developed for AppExchange but going this route means significant increasing the friction required. And as most of the successful Web 2.0 companies have show, the more you reduce friction, the most quickly you are able to harness collective intelligence.

Before I close, let me point out that I founded and then ran for over a decade an Inc 500-recognized company that sold components for Visual Basic and later to .NET developers. I understand programming languages and I can program in more languages than I have fingers (and I’ve got all ten, thank you very much.) I also understand third party markets like AppExchange extremely well as that’s exactly what I focused on; reselling third party components and tools to developers. So I think I have the authority to comment on this. This strategy of launching a new programming language, though they may eventually be able to tuff it out over the long term to make it look successful is, IMO, just plain dumb.

P.S. Even after bitching about this, I’ll probably still learn Apex. Assuming they don’t limit it to just Enterprise and Universal edition customers, DOH!