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Salesforce.com is today expected to take its latest step towards improving integration with third-parties' software, including business rival Oracle.

The hosted CRM pioneer will announce an extension to its recently launched Apex platform and language called ConnectOut, which enables other applications to be notified of business events in Salesforce.com. ConnectOut – part of Salesforce.com’s new ApexConnect family of services - is scheduled for release with the Winter 07 edition of Salesforce.com CRM.

Also due is ConnectOracle for integration with the Oracle 11i database, for bi-directional synchronization of data like customer account information between Salesforce.com and an Oracle repository. Integration is provided through a pre-built customer-master template.

ConnectOracle follows this summer's launch of ConnectSAP, starts at $1,000 per customer per month, runs to $12,000 annually and is available on request from Salesforce.com.

Missing from ConnectOracle, though, is integration between the Oracle-owned PeopleSoft and JD Edwards applications. Neither is there integration with Microsoft Dynamics. Salesforce.com said it picked Oracle in response to customer demand.

The launch is intended to enhance the attraction of Salesforce.com's multi-tenant, hosted business application platform over single-tenant applications from Oracle, SAP and Microsoft. Single-tenancy systems traditionally have a tendency to be complex, thanks to their architecture and the number of modules plugged-in through customization, making upgrades and integration notoriously difficult.

ConnectOut capitalizes on the multi-tenant model, where many people use the same platform, by making integration and customization easier. Connecting with non-Salesforce.com systems occurs at the API layer making it possible to kick-start an outbound message from Salesforce.com to another business application, such as an order fulfillment system.

That is a potential riposte to Netsuite, its software as a service rival NetSuite, which is knocking Salesforce.com for being "only" CRM, by lacking the back-end platform that enterprise resource planning (ERP) provides to run a business.

ConnectOut builds on the Apex platform and language released in October. Apex uses a combination of web services interfaces, AJAX and real-time messaging and integration to combine applications. It is unclear just how far ConnectOut gets into the guts of enterprise applications and data, though, or whether that will remain the preserve of dedicated integrations such as those for Oracle and SAP. Salesforce.com claimed dozens of customers are in production on ConnectSAP. Salesforce.com also provides integration with Microsoft Office, Outlook and Lotus Notes.

According to Salesforce.com, it is helping reduce the cost of integration associated with installing applications. "Prior to ConnectSAP and ConnectOracle a lot of that connection was developed with Salesforce.com and partners. We are shifting more burden to Salesforce.com," Salesforce.com senior vice president Kendall Collins told The Register. "We will continue to pre-package the most popular and widely used product sets."

Salesforce.com will also flag-up integrations using Apex for third-parties on AppExchange, making them easier for customers to find. An Apex Connected category will list 25 offerings from partners who include Tibco, Scribe and Informatica.®

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