Salesforce's 'Superpod': Only For Giants - InformationWeek

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Salesforce's 'Superpod': Only For Giants

Turns out the HP-powered "Superpod" is consistent with's public cloud. But it's not something that many customers will use.

When announced the Salesforce Superpod in a strategic alliance with HP, it wasn't kidding when it said it would be for "the world's largest enterprises."

Despite speculation to the contrary, now we know that the Superpod, which is designed to give big organizations a dedicated instance of application services, is consistent with the company's existing public-cloud, multitenant model. That much was revealed by Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff in a Q&A session with press and analysts this week at Dreamforce. He also underscored that Salesforce Superpod will be a highly selective offering open only to the very largest organizations -- on the scale of the US government or HP, for example.

The Superpod is based on the design of 15 compute pods that Salesforce has distributed across its global datacenters to run its entire operation. Each pod serves tens of thousands of customers with multitenant services. The Superpod came about because "we've had large customers saying they want their own pod," Benioff explained. HP was among those customers, and the partnership came about as a way to build pods using HP hardware and software.

[Want more on the big announcements from Dreamforce 2013? Read's Salesforce1 Platform: A Closer Look.]

Other than using HP technology, Superpods are identical to's existing pods, Benioff insists, and he says these large customers are keen on delivering the same sort of multitenant services. The US government gained a dedicated instance of this summer, for example, and multitenancy serves it well in serving separate agencies such as the FDA and the Department of Health and Human Services. (We don't know what brand of pod the government is using.)

The Superpod offering is designed for security- and governance-minded organizations that want dedicated connections and guaranteed data residency. "A global CIO can say, 'I know that this hardware is in this country on this network in this datacenter, and I'm going to be able to audit it and look at it and encrypt it specifically the way I want," Benioff said.

The Superpods are maintained by Salesforce, and the applications and services are updated on the same cycle as all other pods, Benioff insisted. He didn't offer any details on extra measures of flexibility or control (if there are any), but he did reiterate that this is an offering for the largest of large organizations.

"For the vast majority of customers, this is not appropriate," he said. "But there are customers who want to go to another level."

As for the possibility of letting smaller customers run Superpods on premises? Benioff shut the door. "We're not going to shoot servers out to customers, because that really is not our model."

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User Rank: Author
11/21/2013 | 2:00:05 PM
Re: Doing The Math
So no mini-pods for the midsize enterprise or nonprofit crowd? Hmm. Maybe later.
D. Henschen
D. Henschen,
User Rank: Author
11/21/2013 | 12:03:28 PM
Doing The Math
Benioff talked about "care, maintenance and white-glove treatment," but he didn't get into a lot of details about the capacity of a Superpod. At last count I think Saleforce had more than 600,000 customers across 15 pods. That's 40,000 per pod, though it's surely the case that one pod might handle 100,000 SMBs where another might handle 5,000 large enterprises.

There was no talk of making fractions of Superpods available and you get the sense that Salesforce really wants to keep this to a selective offering. The more variation you introduce in a data center, the greater the opportunity for mixups and failures. Superpod sounds like the simplest option could come up with to accommodate dedicated instances.
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