Ismael Ghalimi has a good post on Salesforce.com's AppExchange, following up on a discussion among the Enterprise Irregulars, a group of smart enterprise bloggers submitting stories to a site using CrispyNews, which provides a service for creating Digg-like community sites. Ismael summarizes his AppExchange take:
At this point AppExchange is limited for developing more sophisticated enterprise applications, but the software-as-a-service model has the benefit of faster development cycles. Salesforce.com, which was founded in March 1999, just released its 20th edition. By controlling the platform environment, configuration testing, bug fixing and other time and money intensive tasks are greatly reduced, which allows SAAS companies to iterate much faster than traditional software companies. No needless customization is the mantra.
...adding server-side code execution, standards-based BPM, SOA-like integration and simple document management capabilities to the AppExchange platform would turn Salesforce.com’s most recent initiative into a legitimate platform the developing enterprise-grade applications. Salesforce.com has done a great job of listening to its customers and partners over the years, and its success in launching AppExchange is proof for this. Let’s hope that Marc [Benioff] and his team continue down this path.
With service-orientation and using standard interfaces, the downsides of a single-vendor platform like AppExchange are reduced. It's just a matter of time before the SAAS model and relatively new platforms like AppExchange expand deeper into enterprises with a wider variety of applications and services. At the same time traditional software vendors like SAP and Oracle are revamping their platforms around Web services and adding SAAS offerings. In the end, enterprise customers want choice, standards and flexibility--which means that coopetition rather the siege mentality competition should rule the day...