Cisco Systems is augmenting its aggressive cloud strategy with the addition of Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff to the board of directors.
The 47-year-old cloud pioneer, who founded Salesforce.com in 1999, was one of two new members announced by Cisco Aug. 2 to the now 14-member board. The other was Kristina Johnson, CEO of Enduring Hydro, a green energy company, and former under secretary of energy at the U.S. Department of Energy.
The appointments underscore Ciscos cloud computing efforts. Company executives have been vocal about the idea of the network being the foundation for cloud computing, and how Cisco will leverage the cloud in key growth areas, such as video.
Benioffs cloud experience was a key benefit in getting him onto the board, according to Cisco CEO John Chambers.
"Marc has changed the face of technology through his bold ideas around cloud computing and the social enterprise, Chambers said in a statement.
Over the past 13 years, Benioff, a former Oracle executive, has grown Salesforce.com into an $18 billion company with more than 6,000 employees and 90,000 customers, pioneering the idea that businesses didnt have to run enterprise software on their own systems, but rather could access the applications over the Internet.
This came at a time when Microsoft, Oracle, SAP and other enterprise applications vendors were making billions of dollars selling software on disks to businesses. Benioffs software-as-a-service (SaaS) approach has since influenced these companies and others to adopt similar cloud strategies.
In a 2011 interview with eWEEK, Rob Enderle, principal analyst at The Enderle Group, said Benioff and Salesforce.com essentially defined cloud computing as its known currently.
"Salesforce.com was really the first big wake-up call on cloud computing, coming before we really understood what it meant," Enderle said. "They were the test case that showcased the massive advantages of going in this direction, and, for the most part, the cloud computing industry owes much of its successparticularly in the applications spaceto them."
Cisco offers a number of cloud products and services, many of them under the CloudVerse umbrella. Included in the offerings is Ciscos Unified Computing System (UCS), a converged data center solution that offers tightly integrated server, networking, storage, virtualization and management software that is aimed at cloud infrastructure environments. After three years, Cisco has more than 11,000 UCS customers, and the business has an annual run rate of more than $1.3 billion, officials said in June.
Cisco also offers intelligent cloud networking solutions that officials said enable a faster delivery of service within a cloud and between clouds, whether public, private or hybrid.
The cloud was a key topic during the companys Cisco Live event in June, with a host of new products and servicesincluding physical and virtual routers and softwaredesigned to make it easier for customers to migrate to the cloud.
In a talk in 2011, Chambers said that data center virtualization and cloud computing will be the new IT architecture, and that in the future, everything is going to be a service.