For Salesforce.com, "The End Of Software" Becomes "The Best Of Both Worlds" - InformationWeek

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10/13/2009
07:34 PM
Fredric Paul
Fredric Paul
Commentary
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For Salesforce.com, "The End Of Software" Becomes "The Best Of Both Worlds"

I just got back from Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff's much anticipated presentation at Oracle OpenWorld, and it was an interesting experience to say the least. Benioff didn't announce anything new. Instead he pushed Software as a Service as a complement, not just an alternative, to traditional software. And for once he gave more than passing mention to the needs of small and midsize companies.

I just got back from Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff's much anticipated presentation at Oracle OpenWorld, and it was an interesting experience to say the least. Benioff didn't announce anything new. Instead he pushed Software as a Service as a complement, not just an alternative, to traditional software. And for once he gave more than passing mention to the needs of small and midsize companies.Part coming out party for Salesforce.com, part retreat from the mantra of all Cloud Computing all the time, the rain-soaked event begain with the always quotable Benioff reprising his well known criticisms of tradtional software -- with a special twist for SMBs.

Citing the cost and complexity of developing, installing, maintaining, and upgrading corporate applications, Benioff claimed that in many cases enterprises are not getting the applications they need and want... which means "and small businesses don't have a chance." A former Oracle employee himself, Benioff even dissed Oracle OpenWorld -- the earlier ones he attended, anyway -- for speaking only to the largest companies.

Benioff's guest Michael Dell -- the two companies announced a joint integration deal earlier this week -- was careful to say that "companies of all sizes" are turning to SaaS. And Benioff leveraged the Dell name by claiming that with Salesforce.com, "small companies and startups have the same capabilities that Dell does. Medium size companies have the same capablities that Dell does."

IMG00117 Marc Benioff and Michael Dell on stage at Oracle OpenWorld.

I was glad for the SMB shout out, but what about the promised talk of integration between cloud and traditional applications? There was precious little detail, and no announcements of specific integration plans, but Sanjay Mirchandari, CIO of EMC, did come on stage and proclaim that "it's not an either or" choice between the two.

Not exactly the "end of software," of course, but that bit of hyperbole was always going to be a hard message to make stick amidst tens of thousands of Oracle customers. It'll be interesting to see if Benioff returns to the meme at future, non-Oracle events.

Rumor has it that Salesforce.com ponied up big bucks to finally snag an invite to Oracle OpenWorld this year -- they're even giving away a fleet of Mini Coopers, seen incessantly circling the venue -- and frankly I'm still not sure exactly why.

After all, the biggest chunk of Salesforce.com's presentation was devoted to a demo of the company's Service Cloud offerings, which the audience didn't seem to quite get. At least one attendee was heard shaking his head and muttering, "I guess it's all about Twitter..."

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