After meeting Steve Pugh, CEO of CODA Financials, Inc., I wanted to understand why this mid-market financial applications vendor decided to build its next generation infrastructure on Salesforce.com’s infrastructure. I found the decision making to be quite interesting. First, for some background, CODA decided that it was time to move. The company has a habit of migrating to the next big platform of the day. The company started out writing its applications for the HP 3000 in the late 1970s and then moving to Digital Equipment’s VAX platform in the 1980s. After that CODA moved its code to the AS/400. The next platform was client/server in the 1990s – which was basically a browser-based environment. Now fast forward to the current decade. CODA decided to build the platform on top of salesforce.com. CODA was familiar with Salesforce.com because the company is a Salesforce customer.
The objective of the movement to a new platform was based on the ambitious plan to do for financial products what Salesforce has done for CRM. Needless to say, it is quite an ambitious goal. CODA management began to appreciate the potential for Software as a Service as a way to build customers faster than the sales process of on premise software. Before making the decision to use sforce (salesforce’s development platform), the company performed an ROI analysis. The challenge for the company was the cost of writing the code from scratch internally. Basically, development management realized that they would have to write for a multi-tenant environment that would have required several years of work to get the right infrastructure services in place. They simply couldn’t justify the expenditure or the time lag required for development. Without having to worry about any specific software infrastructure, CODA’s developers focused on customer facing features.
Unlike some of the companies that have built on top of sForce, CODA is a large company that serves mid-market companies. Salesforce needs CODA as much as CODA needs them. Salesforce needed to prove to the market that its platform could support a major application. CODA’s application is starting into the beta stage. So far, the company is happy. It has saved time and money. Now the proof will be to see if customers adopt its new SaaS platform.
CODA wrote its application with Salesforce’s Java like language called Apex. Therefore, the company is locked into the Salesforce platform. While there are always choices to be made and perhaps CODA is making the right one. It is clearly right from an ecosystem perspective since Salesforce will help CODA sell into its customer base. Long term CODA will have to read the tealeaves, just like it did when it committed to platforms such as the AS/400 and the VAX.