Salesforce.com Builds a Bridge to WebSphere

With sforce Toolkit for WebSphere, companies can tap WebSphere Application Server and WebSphere Studio Application Developer to build CRM solutions that integrate customer and sales information with their own applications.

When Salesforce.com announced its new sforce initiative last summer, the CRM-as-a-service vendor promised to allow enterprise developers to integrate their existing tools and platforms with its hosted applications.

At the time, Salesforce.com touted relationships with several prominent purveyors of enterprise applications, including Borland Software Corp., BEA Systems Inc., Microsoft Corp., and Sun Microsystems Inc.

You can add another prominent name to that list: IBM Corp., which markets the popular WebSphere J2EE application server. Since last week, Salesforce.com has been shipping an sforce toolkit for WebSphere that should enable developers to integrate and customize its Salesforce.com applications for use with Big Blue’s market-leading J2EE application server. Last year, research firm Gartner Inc. found that IBM’s WebSphere controlled nearly 40 percent of the J2EE application server market, trailed by BEA’s WebLogic.

Before it shipped sforce last June, Salesforce.com supported a proprietary API called XML-RPC that customers could program to if they needed to facilitate integration between on-premise applications and the Salesforce.com CRM stack. The problem, company representatives conceded, was that XML-RPC didn’t offer a lot in the way of canned integration—via toolkits, scripts, adapters, and other technologies—with enterprise applications.

Sforce promised to change that. Rather than programming to Salesforce.com’s proprietary XML-RPC API, Microsoft shops, for example, could exploit the Visual Studio .NET development environment—and choose from among several programming languages—to build applications or Web services components that exploit sforce to integrate with the Salesforce.com CRM stack. Ditto for BEA, Borland, and Sun shops: Enterprise developers can use BEA Systems’ WebLogic Workshop, Borland's Jbuilder, and Sun’s Sun ONE Studio tools to program for the sforce framework.

Thanks to the new sforce Toolkit for WebSphere, Salesforce.com offficals say, developers and enterprises can now tap WebSphere Application Server and WebSphere Studio Application Developer to build CRM solutions that integrate customer and sales information with on-premise applications.

The new toolkit includes sforce Object Browser for WebSphere, which facilitates access to sforce Objects, schema definition, and configuration information directly within WebSphere Application Studio Designer; integrated help, which makes sforce API reference documentation available directly within WebSphere Application Studio Designer; and sample projects, which include J2EE code examples that demonstrate common CRM integration and extension scenarios.

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.