Welcome!

Agile Computing Authors: Elizabeth White, Carmen Gonzalez, Derek Weeks, AppNeta Blog, SmartBear Blog

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Java IoT, Microservices Expo, Containers Expo Blog, Agile Computing, SDN Journal

@CloudExpo: Blog Post

Cloud Wars – Can the Force Disrupt the Battlefield?

The cloud market is not going away. Gartner predicts that cloud spending from 2013 to 2016 will be $677 billion worldwide

The cloud wars battle rages on. Gartner predicts that one in four cloud providers will be gone by 2015, making this a very high stakes battle for all concerned. The 800lb gorillas, AWS, IBM, Google, Microsoft, et al. continue their efforts for dominance. The latest salvo has been a price war between Google, AWS and Microsoft for their services. Pricing is spiraling downward at breakneck speeds. The others are sure to follow. Into this fog of war, another player has been working on winning the hearts and minds of customers and developers. SalesForce.com, one of the first and best known Software as a Service (SaaS) vendors, has set its sights on becoming the platform of choice for cloud development and deployments.

Will they succeed? They definitely can be considered a gorilla in their own right, approaching $5B in sales, and with a reported 1.5M developers, should not be taken lightly. Their approach is having an impact in the battle, forcing the other vendors and the industry to re-think how they look at cloud services, and could ultimately change the battlefield tactics in the ongoing cloud wars. To understand how a CRM vendor rose to that level of impact, becoming a contender in the cloud wars, one must trace their roots.

This Is Not Your Father's CRM
I know I am dating myself, but there was a time I worked in the industry when customer relationship management was literally a sales person's rolodex. Then, in the early 1990s, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) came into being as a concept. We graduated to digital rolodexes and small marketing applications like ACT. CRM really started to take off in the mid-90s when large ERP vendors such as Oracle and SAP joined the game. These vendors wanted to leverage their size and installed an ERP base to fuel the growth. CRM systems like those were large in-house applications with a myriad of marketing and sales services being added along the way.

Salesforce.com took CRM in a very different direction when they were founded in 1999. They were one of the first companies to truly push the SaaS model with their ‘End of Software' marketing pitch and campaign. While we take SaaS for granted nowadays, this was a pretty radical approach at the time. To set some context, in 1999

  • Approx four percent of the world's population was on the Internet
  • Google had been founded just six months prior
  • Amazon.com had been around for approximate five years (AWS was still seven years away)

Eleven years later, Salesforce.com rose to become the industry market leader in CRM, bypassing the ERP stalwarts SAP and Oracle, capturing 14 percent marketshare according to Gartner. In that timeframe their name became synonymous with SaaS (think, how many presentations on the cloud have you seen that give Salesforce.com as an example of SaaS?).

May the Force Be with You
In 2007, Salesforce.com again took the cloud industry by storm launching Force.com. Force.com provided a mechanism for customers and partners to build cloud-hosted applications that could easily integrate with the Salesforce.com core systems. Just as Salesforce.com had become synonymous with SaaS, Force.com led the way into the Platform as a Service (PaaS) world (some even credit Salesforce.com founder Mark Benioff as coining the term PaaS). According to Salesforce.com, within three years they had over 300,000 developers that had written over 180,000 custom applications. Recent reports have them at 1.5M developers. At their recent DreamForce 2013 conference, there were 130,000+ registered attendees from 84 countries and 350 partner companies participating.

Gartner's latest magic quadrant for Enterprise PaaS places Salesforce.com as the industry leader. Gartner views one of their key strengths as having the "...longest strategic and successful presence in the cloud application and platform markets. This gives salesforce.com the name recognition and reputation that, for many prospects, translate to a safe choice in the otherwise immature and unsettled PaaS market." The have become the ‘safe' choice, just as in decades past the ‘nobody got fired for buying IBM' concept.

This does not mean they are a perfect solution. One of my favorite phrases is "Everything is a tradeoff," and the Salesforce.com PaaS offering is no different. It is built around a proprietary cloud native relational DBMS (which is the underlying DBMS for the Salesforce.com product suite as well). Gartner cautions ‘The proprietary nature of the Force.com platform deters adoption by many independent application development projects seeking to avoid vendor lock-in and prevents application migration projects from utilizing the platform.'

The Convergence of IaaS and PaaS, Changes in the Battlefield?
A recent article in Network World, ‘Is the PaaS Market as we know it dying?', discusses changes and trends that are happening in the IaaS and PaaS space. The article raises the theory that these two major cloud models are moving towards consolidation. David Linthicum reinforces that viewpoint. He describes it as ‘PaaS isn't dying, it's becoming part of IaaS'. As the ongoing price wars between the IaaS gorillas continues, it reduces IaaS to just a commodity item. Differentiators are needed to attract customers (and developers) to use this commodity for their cloud applications and deployments. Some of those differentiators can be platform services to facilitate development and application marketplaces to provide customers with easier transition to the cloud environments. IBM recently announced such a marketplace, and added PaaS to their portfolio with the acquisition of SoftLayer last year.

These differentiators are how Salesforce.com has been marketing and selling Force.com and what has made them the industry leader in the PaaS space. They have had their own marketplace, called AppExchange, with over 2,200 partner built applications including integrations with all the key social media technologies such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. The convergence of the IaaS and PaaS models can potentially play to SalesForce.com's sweet spot and make them a strong competitor to all the other 800lb gorillas in the ongoing cloud wars.

Will this be enough? Time will tell. The cloud market is not going away. Gartner predicts that cloud spending from 2013 to 2016 will be $677 billion worldwide. There is a lot at stake, so the cloud wars will continue for some time. SalesForce.com is more than capable of holding its own against the other 800lb gorillas in the ongoing battle for the cloud market share. Salesforce.com was born of the cloud and has not looked back nor rested on their laurels. When the predicted shakeout occurs, I think they will still be one of the ones left standing.

More Stories By Ed Featherston

Ed Featherston is VP, Principal Architect at Cloud Technology Partners. He brings 35 years of technology experience in designing, building, and implementing large complex solutions. He has significant expertise in systems integration, Internet/intranet, and cloud technologies. He has delivered projects in various industries, including financial services, pharmacy, government and retail.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that Super Micro Computer, Inc., a global leader in compute, storage and networking technologies, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Supermicro (NASDAQ: SMCI), the leading innovator in high-performance, high-efficiency server technology, is a premier provider of advanced server Building Block Solutions® for Data Center, Cloud Computing, Enterprise IT, Hadoop/...
Amazon has gradually rolled out parts of its IoT offerings in the last year, but these are just the tip of the iceberg. In addition to optimizing their back-end AWS offerings, Amazon is laying the ground work to be a major force in IoT – especially in the connected home and office. Amazon is extending its reach by building on its dominant Cloud IoT platform, its Dash Button strategy, recently announced Replenishment Services, the Echo/Alexa voice recognition control platform, the 6-7 strategic...
In his keynote at @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, Director of IoT Engineering at Citrix and co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, focused on building an IoT platform and company. He provided a behind-the-scenes look at Octoblu’s platform, business, and pivots along the way (including the Citrix acquisition of Octoblu).
Bert Loomis was a visionary. This general session will highlight how Bert Loomis and people like him inspire us to build great things with small inventions. In their general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Harold Hannon, Architect at IBM Bluemix, and Michael O'Neill, Strategic Business Development at Nvidia, discussed the accelerating pace of AI development and how IBM Cloud and NVIDIA are partnering to bring AI capabilities to "every day," on-demand. They also reviewed two "free infrastructure" pr...
Judith Hurwitz is president and CEO of Hurwitz & Associates, a Needham, Mass., research and consulting firm focused on emerging technology, including big data, cognitive computing and governance. She is co-author of the book Cognitive Computing and Big Data Analytics, published in 2015. Her Cloud Expo session, "What Is the Business Imperative for Cognitive Computing?" is scheduled for Wednesday, June 8, at 8:40 a.m. In it, she puts cognitive computing into perspective with its value to the busin...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Hitachi, the leading provider the Internet of Things and Digital Transformation, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Hitachi Data Systems, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hitachi, Ltd., offers an integrated portfolio of services and solutions that enable digital transformation through enhanced data management, governance, mobility and analytics. We help globa...
Cognitive Computing is becoming the foundation for a new generation of solutions that have the potential to transform business. Unlike traditional approaches to building solutions, a cognitive computing approach allows the data to help determine the way applications are designed. This contrasts with conventional software development that begins with defining logic based on the current way a business operates. In her session at 18th Cloud Expo, Judith S. Hurwitz, President and CEO of Hurwitz & ...
The explosion of new web/cloud/IoT-based applications and the data they generate are transforming our world right before our eyes. In this rush to adopt these new technologies, organizations are often ignoring fundamental questions concerning who owns the data and failing to ask for permission to conduct invasive surveillance of their customers. Organizations that are not transparent about how their systems gather data telemetry without offering shared data ownership risk product rejection, regu...
Financial Technology has become a topic of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities. Accordingly, attendees at the upcoming 20th Cloud Expo at the Javits Center in New York, June 6-8, 2017, will find fresh new content in a new track called FinTech.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interoute, owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Interoute is the owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform which encompasses 12 data centers, 14 virtual data centers and 31 colocation centers, with connections to 195 add...
The age of Digital Disruption is evolving into the next era – Digital Cohesion, an age in which applications securely self-assemble and deliver predictive services that continuously adapt to user behavior. Information from devices, sensors and applications around us will drive services seamlessly across mobile and fixed devices/infrastructure. This evolution is happening now in software defined services and secure networking. Four key drivers – Performance, Economics, Interoperability and Trust ...
Grape Up is a software company, specialized in cloud native application development and professional services related to Cloud Foundry PaaS. With five expert teams that operate in various sectors of the market across the USA and Europe, we work with a variety of customers from emerging startups to Fortune 1000 companies.
Cybersecurity is a critical component of software development in many industries including medical devices. However, code is not always written to be robust or secure from the unknown or the unexpected. This gap can make medical devices susceptible to cybersecurity attacks ranging from compromised personal health information to life-sustaining treatment. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Clark Fortney, Software Engineer at Battelle, will discuss how programming oversight using key methods can incre...
Multiple data types are pouring into IoT deployments. Data is coming in small packages as well as enormous files and data streams of many sizes. Widespread use of mobile devices adds to the total. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists will look at the tools and environments that are being put to use in IoT deployments, as well as the team skills a modern enterprise IT shop needs to keep things running, get a handle on all this data, and deli...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Grape Up will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct. 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Grape Up is a software company specializing in cloud native application development and professional services related to Cloud Foundry PaaS. With five expert teams that operate in various sectors of the market across the U.S. and Europe, Grape Up works with a variety of customers from emergi...
The Internet of Things is clearly many things: data collection and analytics, wearables, Smart Grids and Smart Cities, the Industrial Internet, and more. Cool platforms like Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Intel's Galileo and Edison, and a diverse world of sensors are making the IoT a great toy box for developers in all these areas. In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists discussed what things are the most important, which will have the most profound e...
@ThingsExpo has been named the Most Influential ‘Smart Cities - IIoT' Account and @BigDataExpo has been named fourteenth by Right Relevance (RR), which provides curated information and intelligence on approximately 50,000 topics. In addition, Right Relevance provides an Insights offering that combines the above Topics and Influencers information with real time conversations to provide actionable intelligence with visualizations to enable decision making. The Insights service is applicable to eve...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SoftLayer, an IBM Company, has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York, New York. SoftLayer, an IBM Company, provides cloud infrastructure as a service from a growing number of data centers and network points of presence around the world. SoftLayer’s customers range from Web startups to global enterprises.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Super Micro Computer, Inc., a global leader in compute, storage and networking technologies, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Supermicro (NASDAQ: SMCI), the leading innovator in high-performance, high-efficiency server technology, is a premier provider of advanced server Building Block Solutions® for Data Center, Cloud Computing, Enterprise IT, Hadoop/...
Web Real-Time Communication APIs have quickly revolutionized what browsers are capable of. In addition to video and audio streams, we can now bi-directionally send arbitrary data over WebRTC's PeerConnection Data Channels. With the advent of Progressive Web Apps and new hardware APIs such as WebBluetooh and WebUSB, we can finally enable users to stitch together the Internet of Things directly from their browsers while communicating privately and securely in a decentralized way.