Marc Benioff gave a talk at the GigaOm Structure conference today. He's never shy of giving his opinions.
He mentioned that he was talking to his friend, Craig Mundie, a Microsoft executive, at the World Economic Forum this year. Marc mentioned that his company, cloud computing leader Salesforce.com, has over 77,300 customers now. Just to show how efficient cloud computing is, he asked Craig how many servers 77,000 Microsoft customers would require. Craig figured each company would need at least one, and some a couple more, so guessed at least 100,000.
Benioff boasted that Salesforce.com has only 3,000 servers (Dell computers) to run all those companies' needs – and that half of them are not even turned on. The other half are to handle peak demand. Ouch.
“The Microsofts and IBMs of the world are just going away” because they can't wean themselves from selling software, rather than renting it out in the cloud, he said. “CIOs want change,” he says. “They're demanding it. They're finally deciding they don't want the same old stuff. They're looking to Google, to Amazon, to us.” And his final dig: “That's why Microsoft's stock has been flat for the last ten years.”
Conference organizer Om Malik asked what he thought about Oracle's boast that it is now into cloud computing. He pointed to Oracle's “Iron Man” ads, with the slogan, “Software, hardware, complete.” (Oracle recently bought Sun Microsystems for its server hardware.) “That's their strategy,” he says. “Sell you more software, sell you more hardware.”
That's not cloud computing. “Our strategy is to sell you no hardware or software,” he said. Cloud computing has to be at least an order of magnitude cheaper to be considered “real” cloud computing, he added. Otherwise, why bother? That's the difference between real cloud computing and “the false cloud.”
To illustrate the difference, he mentioned a recent trip to Japan where he attended a conference. Japanese companies are not on the cloud yet. One company with a huge display was boasting on enormous banners that it is offering cloud computing. So he took his translator to the booth and asked to see their approach to the cloud. He was shown a rack with a lot of hardware and software on it. How is that cloud computing? Benioff asked. The response: Well, we can put the rack in your facilities, or in ours, or in someone else's!
So Benioff came up with the idea of talking about “the false cloud” to illustrate that a lot of companies claiming clouds are just wrong.
What's the next step in the cloud? Mobility and social networking. “Why isn't all enterprise software like FaceBook,” which has a billion users? Now that's efficiency. He calls it “Cloud Two.” To that end, he says Salesforce.com is rewriting its software platform, its applications, its call centers and more to incorporate mobile capability and social networks into the system. “This is going to create more value and capability than Cloud One,” he said. “We have to transform, and we're working on that.”
The new technology for social networking at Salesforce.com is called “Chatter,” described as “The real-time Collaboration Cloud.” The status of important projects and deals are automatically pushed to you – kind of like email alerts from FaceBook, I guess. The Web site says “Updates on people, groups, documents, and your application data come straight to you in real-time feeds.”
Sounds great. My question is, can he keep out the spam?
You can check out the video of his talk here.
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