Convergence Causes the Shift
The current convergence of several factors is the reason for these changes: the emergence of broadband connectivity as a de facto standard, vastly improved servers and networking equipment, relatively inexpensive (and virtually limitless) storage capacities, and great improvements in the deployment of online services since the ASP days of the late 1990s. "We always look at the consumer network as the first place to go," Benioff said. "When you combine the Facebook user base with the Twitter user base, you've got more than a billion people in social networks."Those people are being conditioned to think about the Internet, the network and the devices differently: how they use them, what they use them for, how they interoperate, the concept of a profile, the concept of a status update, the concept of information being pushed at you. It's more fun."But Benioff doesn't think that first version of the Internet took the industry to a new level. "The first version let us have browsers, which was very important because that let us get out of the operating system," he explained. "The browser was kind of Cloud 1, which was, -Now I have a browser, so I can access an app in a standard way and get out of the proprietary APIs of the operating system.' That was a huge shift. "Now we've moved to Cloud 2," Benioff said, "and we have new native environments that are very exciting: [Apple's] iOS, BlackBerry, PlayBook, Xoom, Honeycomb." The surprise entry into the enterprise is Apple's iPad, according to Benioff. Though this device was designed for the consumer market, it has already become a major enterprise staple. "I've talked with 200 CIOs in the last six weeks, and what I continually hear is that they are rolling out iPads en masse," Benioff said. "[CEO] Carl Bass of Autodesk runs his whole company on iPads, as do others. This is the future. The past is the notebook, the netbook, the desktop. "The reason I know this is that the kids who are coming out of college and going into major corporations are asking, -Where's my social network? Where's my iPad?' They don't want us to give them a laptop. They want a next-generation device." Benioff is convinced that Cloud 2 is on the verge of widespread adoption and that the new devices and Web services will supply the foundation for it. "Then we are going to move into Cloud 3, which will be all about the domination of these tablets, next-generation data types-like video-on these devices, and open platforms that bring [application] portability that we have not seen previously," he predicted. "Clouds will be standardized. Custom clouds will be amazing places where customers can live inside companies. This is going to be a big shift."