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Infrastructure // PC & Servers
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11/7/2008
10:24 AM
Fritz Nelson
Fritz Nelson
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Cloud Storm At Web 2.0

At the Web 2.0 Summit here in San Francisco, executives from Salesforce.com, Google, Adobe, and VMWare attempted to take the cloud discussion beyond the typical "compute-in-cloud" model, and into some uncomfortable and ambitious places.

At the Web 2.0 Summit here in San Francisco, executives from Salesforce.com, Google, Adobe, and VMWare attempted to take the cloud discussion beyond the typical "compute-in-cloud" model, and into some uncomfortable and ambitious places.

A few highlights for me:

First, it was refreshing that we could move beyond the simple plumbing and really talk about a cloud compute model instead of the computing itself. I don't need to re-hash the significance of that. It's been written far more eloquently elsewhere, but the opportunity to begin thinking more intelligently about this is a welcome step. VMWare's Paul Maritz, the lone "plumber" on the panel, was especially lucid here, talking about the shift to a more information-centric view of the world where not only our information, but the information about that information, will become so vital that it will outlive us. He mentioned concepts like an information bank and even an information marketplace where independent providers can add value around that information. There's tremendous business opportunity here.

Second, Adobe. It never occurred to me before hearing from Kevin Lynch that Adobe planned to play such a role, but it makes sense: Flash and Flex as the client connection points (or user interface) to the cloud resources. Lynch called it "getting back lost treasures of the desktop," meaning providing the rich user experience he thinks we've moved away from. I also didn't know Adobe was moving apps like Acrobat and Photoshop into the cloud -- so these guys are pretty serious about this.

Third, I continue to be amazed by the way Salesforce is dominating the market. Despite Mark Benioff's snide asides (always amusing, and always pretty much spot on), Salesforce is at a $1B annualized run rate now, according to Benioff. With the AppExchange model and Force.Com, it's done an amazing job at locking up the applications market. I wasn't able to go to Dreamforce, but Benioff talked on stage about some fancy Starbucks application integrated into Facebook mashed up with some sort of recruiting application from Dell -- I have NO idea what all of that means, nor could I find any details on the web, but it just struck me that Salesforce is moving extremely fast. My favorite line: When Tim O'Reilly mentioned Microsoft's efforts in the cloud (Azure), Benioff asked "do you mean A Zune?"

Finally, this panel closed with thoughts on platform as service plays and the very dangerous road of proprietary approaches we seem to be heading down. This is where things really get interesting.

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