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Salesforce.com, HP Partner For Private Cloud 'Superpods'

HP puts compute, storage and networking in one box so Salesforce.com customers can run and private instances of its sales, service, and marketing clouds.

Salesforce.com announced a strategic partnership with HP on Monday that will bring financial services, healthcare organizations, government agencies, and other large, security-sensitive organizations an option to run private instances of the Salesforce sales, service, and marketing clouds.

HP is contributing the hardware for all-in-one, appliance-style Salesforce Superpods that will run in Salesforce.com datacenters but that are designed to give large, demanding organizations their own instance of Salesforce and, thus, a new level of control services not possible with a standard instance from the vendor's multi-tenant public cloud.

"The salesforce.com and HP partnership is a breakthrough in cloud computing," Marc Benioff, chairman and CEO of Salesforce, said in a statement. "The Salesforce Superpod will allow individual customers to have a dedicated instance in the Salesforce multi-tenant cloud, powered by HP's technology and fully managed within salesforce.com's world-class data centers."

[ Want more on the big news from the Dreamforce event? Read Salesforce Debuts Mobilized Salesforce1 Platform. ]

Industry watchers have speculated that Salesforce would offer a private-cloud option ever since it announced a strategic partnership with Oracle in June. Through that deal, Salesforce committed to using the Oracle database and middleware, software that undoubtedly provides crucial infrastructure within the Salesforce Superpods. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and HP CEO Meg Whitman are set to discuss the partnership in more detail on Tuesday in a keynote at the big Dreamforce event in San Francisco.

Given a standardized software stack and control over storage, compute, and networking capacity, CIOs at large corporations could be assured of meeting strict data-residency and data-governance rules, and they would presumably have control over software updates, customizations, and integrations with systems running in their own datacenters.

What's not clear yet is exactly how and when Salesforce will upgrade and update its software and what degree of control customers will have over changes to the environment. The Superpod is a half step toward the hybrid strategies offered by competitors Microsoft and Oracle whereby you can run their CRM software on-premises or in private or public clouds. SAP offers SaaS services separately from software that can be deployed on-premises or as managed services.

Salesforce has stopped short of offering an on-premises deployment option. That's an option that Microsoft in particular is successfully exploiting with its Microsoft Dynamics CRM offering.

"For every 100 CRM deals that we saw last year, about 43 went to Microsoft Dynamics and about 38 went to Salesforce," Constellation Research analyst Ray Wang told InformationWeek when the Oracle-Salesforce partnership was anounced. "The reason Dynamics beat out Salesforce is because there was an on-premises option."

Salesforce also announced its third-quarter results on Monday, reporting strong, 37 percent billings growth over the same quarter last year and solid cashflow. The company reported revenue of $1.08 billion and cash flow of $138 million, exceeding Wall Street estimates. Salesforce is now forecasting fiscal year 2014 revenue of $4.05 billion to $4.06 billion, up 33 percent from last year and a couple of ticks ahead of the prior guidance of $4.00 billion to $4.03 billion.

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