Software as a service (SaaS) vendor, Salesforce.com today announced a multi-tenant, shared architecture platform and programming language, claiming to be the world’s first available on-demand.

Apex is designed to enable third-party independent software vendors (ISVs) to write code that runs natively on Salesforce.com's platform and expands the reach, scope, and depth of ISV applications available through its distribution and integration tool, AppExchange.

Apex code and applications will run on the Salesforce.com service with the aim of freeing businesses from buying and deploying complex software infrastructure.

Marc Benioff, Salesforce.com chairman and chief executive said: "This is the most important announcement Salesforce.com has ever made.

“Apex will unleash a new level of innovation as we provide our on-demand infrastructure to developers worldwide as a service. No hardware, software, data centres, or infrastructure of any kind will be needed to build, distribute, and deliver on-demand applications."

The new platform will enable any type of enterprise application built for AppExchange to be delivered on-demand through the Salesforce.com environment, removing the need for time-intensive technical integration or customisation.

Most applications currently available via AppExchange, including expense management, purchasing tracking, recruitment monitoring, add to the customer relationship management and sales force automation base of the Salesforce.com core product.

But rival vendor NetSuite was quick to point out to its introduction of SuiteScript six months ago, and its predecessor (NetSuite Custom Code) over a year ago.

Bob Tarzey, senior analyst at Quocirca said that outwardly an announcement like this can seem a bit like ‘so what?’ he said: “But the innovation is because it’s for an on-demand architecture.”

Other vendors in this space had similar capabilities, but different strengths: “Netsuite are much more small-to-medium sized business focused and more ERP than the CRM base of Salesforce.com, for example” said Tarzey.