Cloud computing heavyweights Salesforce.com and Workday both reported better-than-expected quarterly revenue increases last week, keeping up their impressive growth track records.
It's fresh evidence that enterprise applications are moving into the cloud, with new InformationWeek research showing that the trend is not limited to small- and midsize-businesses or to lightweight "edge" applications like travel and expense management.
Salesforce.com's latest quarter ended July 31 was highlighted by a 31% year-over-year increase in revenue to $957 million -- well ahead of the $941 million revenue mark expected by analysts at Wells Fargo Securities. The increase was fueled in part by the company's $2.5 billion acquisition of cloud-based marketing firm ExactTarget. But the bigger story is Salesforce.com's effort to target "the largest and most important companies in the world," as Benioff put it during last week's conference call with analysts.
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Salesforce.com's customer list already included the likes of CocaCola and General Electric. The ExactTarget buy added big companies including Gap and Nike. The company reported that the second quarter saw a multi-million-dollar "mega deal" with food services giant Sysco. These wins show that that old generalization about cloud apps being best-suited to, and most desired by, small- and midsized-businesses just isn't holding up.
Our latest InformationWeek Enterprise Applications Survey finds that large companies may actually be more inclined than smaller firms to run cloud apps somewhere in their operations. For example, among the 263 respondents to our June survey, 52% of those representing companies with 1,000 to 4,999 employees use SaaS, while only 31% of companies with 50 to 99 employees do.
What about the nature of those apps? Salesforce.com specializes in front-office, CRM-related applications including sales, marketing and customer service. CRM isn't exactly a lightweight edge app, but cloud vendors including NetSuite and Workday are busy bringing hard-core back-office ERP into the cloud.
Workday reported last week that its second quarter revenues were up 71% over the same period last year to $107 million. That was just ahead of NetSuite's $101 million in 2Q revenue, up 35% year over year. These results don't compare to the $1.28 billion in software revenue reported by ERP kingpin SAP in its second quarter, but that vendor's new (on-premises) software sales were down 7% year over year (3% in constant currencies). Oracle, too, has seen flat to declining sales of on-premises application software in recent quarters.
The "cloud is for SMBs" generalization has been accurate where ERP is concerned because there just haven't been any high-scale ERP options in the cloud. But that's changing. Workday, for one, is working on scaling up its financial ERP apps just as it did with Human Capital Management (HCM). Workday HCM is now used by global companies including Flextronics and Hewlett-Packard, each with more than 200,000 employees.
When Workday launched its successful $685 initial public offering late last year, CEO, chairman and co-founder Aneel Bhusri vowed that the company's Financial ERP apps would be ready for Fortune-1000-scale deployments (and perhaps even Fortune 500-scale deployments) by the end of 2013. To put that in context, the 2013 Fortune 500 list starts at about $5 billion in annual revenue while the Fortune 1000 starts at about $1.5 billion.