I had a chance to sit in on Marc Benioff’s keynote address entitled “The Real-Time Cloud” during the GigaOm’s Structure ’09 conference yesterday (Boomi was an exhibitor). It was an interesting session with Om Malik asking Benioff a wide range of questions about origins, maturity and future of cloud computing.
Benioff spent a lot of time talking about cloud integration. He noted systems like Twitter, and the benefit if integrating with it which is basically that you get access to information as it happens in real time, and can act on it. In legacy enterprise applications this is not possible because when these applications were built Twitter did not exist. It’s a great and important point. Cloud and particularly SaaS applications make possible for the first time a new level of real time, app to app integration that was not possible with enterprise applications. Obviously at Boomi this is the core to how we operate, but it was refreshing to hear other people in the SaaS space highlight the critical role integration plays in the evolution of cloud computing.
And of course because it’s Benioff, you know you’re going to get some good advice and even better quotes. He even took the time to tweak Oracle chief Larry Ellison. Here’s a sample of some of my favorite call-outs from the address:
On recent comments Ellison made about cloud computing:
“Only 6 months ago Larry made caustic remarks about cloud. Then, on a recent investor call he says, ‘the key to on demand is on premise, and the key to on premise is on demand.’ It is very Zen. If you can understand that, then you will understand why the cloud is what it is."
On why Oracle and others are rushing to embrace the cloud:
"They don’t have a choice. Their overall enterprise apps revenue has declined, what else will they do?"
On what SaaS start-ups should do if they are trying to convince large enterprises to turn to the cloud:
“I think the number one thing is you have to get your customers selling for you. Customers don't listen to the vendors anymore. If you can get the gravitas around customers recommending you and referring you, you are golden. If you can't you are in trouble.”
When Om asked how he defines the cloud, Marc went through what he calls the 4 generations of the cloud:
- Acknowledged Diane Greene for starting VMware, predicated on the problem of underutilized servers burning way more energy then they needed, and inventing the concept of virtualization to dramatically increase this efficiency.
- Acknoledged Amazon for taking this to the next level and offering a public version of this virtualized environment, allowing you to transfer LAMP stacks into their compute environment and pay for only what you need.
- Acknowledged Microsoft launching "aZUNE" (Azure) where you can move .Net applications onto their servers.
- He then refers to Force.com a pure play environment, or "4th generation". He says this is not just salesforce.com doing this, but also Google with App Engine. In his opinion, these pure plays offer a much greater base of efficiencies. As an example he cites salesforce.com's own SFA application, stating that SFA has approx. 60k customers and 2 million users. In their primary data center they deliver four 9's of availability, and have only 500 servers in it powering all these customers. He concludes by stating this is possible because you are operating within their managed environment: you get much greater efficiency vs. in amazon where you can run anything regardless of how efficient that application may or may not be.
I’d be interested to hear what else jumped out at folks, or if they heard any interesting conversations in the hall or at the other presentations. I thought it was a great show with a great group of people, and look forward to participating in future events.