Benioff Exposes Hardware/Software 'Scam' - InformationWeek

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4/12/2010
11:43 AM
Doug Henschen
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Benioff Exposes Hardware/Software 'Scam'

Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff brought his cloud computing crusade to New York last week and did his best to expose what he called "the scam" of conventional enterprise hardware and software...

Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff brought his cloud computing crusade to New York last week and did his best to expose what he called "the scam" of conventional enterprise hardware and software to the more than 1,300 attending in person and another 10,000 said to be watching online. Drawing a sharp contract to those now highlighting integrated hardware and software stacks -- a thinly veiled reference to Oracle and IBM -- Benioff said the Salesforce.com answer is "no hardware and no software."

Benihoff made his case to the crowd using Saleforce.com itself as an exemplar of cloud computing efficiency. If Salesforce.com didn't exist, he said the company's 75,000 customers would have to run on the order of 100,000 servers, databases, app servers, and copies of CRM software to handle the equivalent workload. In contrast he said Salesforce supports all those customers on 2,500 Dell servers distributed among three data centers: one on the East Coast of the U.S., one on the West Coast and one in Singapore."It's a much more efficient model and at some level it shows what a scam traditional enterprise hardware and software is," he concluded in an onstage discussion with Andy Brown, chief architect at Bank of America. Brown agreed on many of the benefits of cloud computing, but as you can read in more detail in this story, he didn't quite agree on the premise of a no-hardware, no-software enterprise.

"Let's be honest; there are multiple levels of cloud that enterprises will need to implement," Brown said. "One of them is an infrastructure cloud, just as you've described at Salesforce [but internal to the enterprise]. I think most forward-looking companies are looking at both internal cloud solutions, external private cloud and external public cloud from a hosting perspective. It's the same model for the enterprise that Salesforce.com is using [internally]; but at our scale, it's a larger problem just because of the variety of applications and solutions we need to support."

In other words, Saleforce.com, as a service provider, is not as diverse as the typical enterprise, and certainly not as diverse as a company the size of Bank of America, which has some 300,000 employees and more than 1.4 million retail customers. That's not to say Brown wasn't a strong advocate of cloud computing. As you can read in this story, he views the blending of internal, external-private and external-public clouds as the big challenge for enterprise architects over the next five years.Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff brought his cloud computing crusade to New York last week and did his best to expose what he called "the scam" of conventional enterprise hardware and software...

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