What a difference a year makes.
Or a decade, for that matter.
Marc Benioff has quoted, “In business, we say that people overestimate what you can do in a year and underestimate what you can do in a decade.”
This past decade started with the dot com bubble burst followed by one of the worst economic recessions in history. I think we all agree this has been one tough decade.
And yet over 30,000 registered people came (flocked?) to Dreamforce in the heart of San Francisco’s Moscone Center… for those who haven’t been to a Dreamforce user conference, it has the same energy as a MacWorld, with a touch of a religious and political convention mix during the Keynotes.
Some people came for the guru Marc Benioff, some came because there’s something in the air (a cloud, perhaps?), and some came to see Stevie Wonder and/or Bill Clinton.
It was only a year ago when Benioff shocked the audience with Chatter – aka the Sharepoint killer – or the Facebook/Twitter app for business.
One of the key benefits to Chatter is community engagement plus real time data talking to you. The feedback has been incredible, however, the world is just waiting for the release of mobile devices to most of the popular vendors.
With the spring ‘10 announcement of VMforce, you had to ask yourself what’s coming down the road on the information highway?
What major announcement will be announced in the Keynote?
There were a couple of major announcements, but when you add them all up, it was clear Salesforce is no longer just a CRM company (Marc, perhaps it’s time for a name change?). They are now in the enterprise no-software business and that goes well beyond Chatter.
Day 1 of the keynote ended with the news of Database.com. After Day 2, Salesforce.com has now positioned themselves well into the cloud services market, most notably Database.com, the acquisition of Heroku, and the ease of functionality in Siteforce. Those were my top 3 take home messages, in which all 3 will be available in 2011.
VMForce, which primarily Java, is not live yet. Private beta will now be available for 2011.
Imagine a cloud based service for Oracle?
It wasn’t long ago when some companies ditched Microsoft Office and Excel for Google Apps. With the cost of MS office, it doesn’t make sense to buy it for the entire organization, especially for those users who only use 10% of the functionality. Heck, even Office ‘95 will suffice for most users.
Same goes for a database. Now you can rent database space just like you would for any webhosting environment.
But Database.com doesn’t lock you in completely with Salesforce, as Database.com supports any language, any platform or any device. What it means you can host your platform with Amazon Web Services. Note: Amazon has a similar service with MySQL.
Heroku/Ruby on Rails
The Ruby platform is gaining momentum. Best Buy and Groupon (which was recently acquired by Google) are two good examples on how to use Ruby on Rails. Over 100,000 websites and applications are now written using their platform.
Ruby is best for delivering content to multiple mobile devices as well as web apps.
With the acquisition, you can now write applications using Ruby and then run them on Force.com.
So now the Cloud platform will support both Java and Ruby.
Siteforce is clearly targeted at Marketing or IT folks who use Force.com to build websites. Dell and Starbucks are two examples of customers. I think Salesforce listened to all the suggestions about making web pages easier. Gone are the days of hiring a full time Dreamweaver Webmaster or Developer when you can easily create and update a website easily.
So there we have it.
Cloud computing should be open standard (not open source) and all vendors should be playing nicely in the cloud. Interoperability is important, just like buying different stereo components from different vendors. Plug and Play.. it all works!
An example of this concept and its success can be seen with Google Apps and the Google Apps Marketplace. And looking back to the Cloudstock conference, which was held the day before Dreamforce, the key message is all cloud vendors have to play nicely in the same sandbox. However, some sandboxes are bigger then others.
At the end of the day, customers will pick and choose what application and costs fits best within their organization.