eWEEK at 30: Salesforce Shows Enterprises How Cloud Computing Works

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2014-01-10 Print this article Print

"Benioff approached the Internet differently," King said. "Before the [tech] bubble burst [around 2000-2001], the hot new trend was for an Internet company to become an 'application service provider' [ASP].

"This was the early version of the cloud, but the key factors weren't in place yet to make it work correctly. I remember talking to some of Benioff's people about their new startup in about 1999 and asking them if they were an ASP. They immediately said: 'Don't ever mention that term in connection with us again. We're not in that boat.'"

Emergence of Broadband a Huge Factor in Salesforce Growth

The 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.

Salesforce made sure it was ahead of the curve and ready for all those tech advancements. "Businesses have to be ahead of the trends so they can be there waiting for their customers, when they move to the new tech," Benioff told a New York audience Jan. 8 at the launch of the company's new Salesforce1 platform-as-a-service package. "Otherwise, they risk being left behind their competitors."

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," Benioff told eWEEK. "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."

Moving to Cloud 2

"Now we've moved to Cloud 2," Benioff said, "and we have native environments [such as Apple iOS and Google's Android] that are very exciting." Salesforce made the adjustment to make available native apps for all its products several years ago and not rely strictly on the Internet to deliver its services.

Benioff's mission hasn't wavered in the dozen years Salesforce.com has been supplying online sales and management tools to corporations, small and midsize businesses, and single-owner proprietorships: to help companies do their business more effectively—and to do it without selling on-premises IT hardware and software.

"The world is changing rapidly," Benioff said, "and we're moving into this mobile, social world that's [running] on next-generation open platforms. That's very exciting. All of our customers are rethinking their applications: to run their company, to work with their customers, to collaborate, to share information.

"A lot of these customers are still on old platforms, like Lotus Notes or Microsoft SharePoint, and they want to evolve. We're here to help them do exactly that."



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