Steve Gillmor writes:
Midway through the demos at Salesforce.coms lunch event the other day, I noticed an interesting trend. As Dan Farber illustrates in his joust with Marc Benioff and affiliated post, Marcs “death of software” logothe red circle and line through the word “software” is growing tattered at the seams. It still performs the same old magic for the uninitiated, such as the video developer from SFU who sat across from me at the playground lunch table the other day. “What does that mean, no software?” he asked, referring to my Salesforce baseball cap from a previous event.
Its about services on demand, I said then, and Marc says now. As Farber says, its a supersalesman grabbing you by the lapels. Inside the browser window, its still software, says Dan. I agree. How the bits arrive is important, but only a detail. The platform is whats newits not Windows, or Java, or LAMP, or Symbian. Its the browser. The hat could just as easily be a circle and line through the word “Microsoft.”
In and of itself, Salesforce does not present a comprehensive threat to Microsoft. But Benioff doesnt need to contribute all of the disruption in order to ride the momentum of the Net operating system. He can sit back and let Google and Adam Bosworth take a chunk out of Office with a Gmail-hosted suite of ad-supported services. Its no coincidence that Bosworth is a Salesforce advisor, nor that the early editions of a Salesforce offline solution that used the IE-based XML store are, according to Gross, being migrated to an architecture based on Bosworths Alchemy intelligent caching mechansim work at BEA.
Dan Farber adds:
I asked Benioff what he views as his biggest challenges in becoming a developer platform for business and ERP applications, given that it is an area in which companies like Microsoft, Oracle (+PeopleSoft, J.D. Edwards) and SAP have dominated for decades.
He talked about delivering an on-demand platform, including tools, applications and user interfaces to access information. “Our advantage is that we are more likely to make customers successful than any other vendor,” Benioff added.
How?will Salesforce.com make customers happier than competitors can? Other vendorshe named Microsoft, IBM and Siebelare trapped in failed paradigms of the past. Microsoft, he said, is trapped in the client/server model, which was great in the early 1990s, but not appropriate for the 21st century. Salesforce.com represents the future of utility computing, he said.
There is also a Business Week interview with Marc Benioff.