Software as a service (SaaS) vendor, Salesforce.com is predicting the decline of traditional commercial software models in favour of internet-based business application use in the enterprise.

Adam Gross, Salesforce.com vice president of developer marketing told CIO UK that traditional models perpetuated by the largest software vendors like Oracle and Microsoft will struggle to deliver value for large, distributed enterprises into the future.

He said: “What it boils down to is the role of IT in the business as it evolves. There’s a Gartner statistic that says 70% of enterprises’ budgets goes on non-differentiated, keeping the lights on, IT functions. That’s like filling your car up with gas knowing most of it will go on running the radio, for instance.”

Gross said Salesforce.com’s vision looks to the internet to deliver multi-langauge, multi-currency, enterprise-scale products that build on the innovation of the likes of Goole and Amazon, as opposed to the Oracles and Microsofts of this world.

“I believe we have more to learn from internet companies like Google, Amazon and eBay than we do from the likes of SAP and Oracle who build it all themselves or acquire their new functionality,” he said.

He pointed to the most recent Salesforce.com announcement, extending its platform AppExchange with a multi-tenanted programming platform and language Apex, as a major step towards resolving any conflict a large enterprise may feel in taking on on-demand software.

“There has been a belief that, to take advantage of on-demand models, you have to forego the sophistication of traditional business applications,” said Gross. “With Apex we’re really saying that we’re breaking down this compromise, and that all the flexibility and sophistication you would expect from traditional software packages can be expressed with Apex."

Having announced its latest software version Winter ’07, in addition to the Apex launch a weeks ago, Gross said the vendor will concentrate on their release up to the end of the year. The Apex beta programming language will follow sometime after.

He added: “Customers aren’t asking us to build mapping software, they’re asking us to integrate with the best mapping software out there. The question is how to leverage the innovation coming from the internet for enterprise advantage and value.”