By Sramana Mitra and guest authors Siddharth Garg
Marc Ferretino: Whether it is field services, even if it is even recruiting an HR person or [dealing with] IT services, they have basically built all these applications that they are innovating. They are trying new things, and in their case they don’t have to focus all the time on the basics, and they don’t have to worry about the engineering team. They just have to focus on the business innovation and the business process and not on the rest of the stack.
That really frees up a lot of these companies. One that comes to mind is a company called Libra OnDemand, and they work in the hospitality vertical. They have done a a lot of work on property hospitality, with a suite of products that is amazing. Obviously, that’s not something we are going to do. [Laughs.] It gives a hospitality vertical customer options to go beyond CRM, to go beyond certain things, and to actually implement some of their core processes on Salesforce.com and leverage these companies like Libra OnDemand to help them play, to help them get build vertical expertise.
One of the biggest players in hospitality has also built connections, plug-ins, and even applications on Salesforce.com. So, it is not just startups: This is an established company. One of the bigger ones that was announced over the past year was BMC Remedy, which decided it wanted to move to the cloud and did a high-level analysis on the cost of moving to the cloud. What they did instead of starting to build their own cloud stack use a Salesforce stack. So, instead of their taking three years to build their cloud infrastructure and platform at a cost of $100 million, they were going to market with their first version of their product within six months, which is incredible. So, we are seeing a broader-based adoption of the idea of, I don’t want to be focused on the entire stack itself. Let’s focus on the things that matter and that people actually care about. There have been a handful of companies that have had a lot of success this way.
Sramana Mitra: Now, what happens to IBM in this scenario?
MF: In what way? What is the role of professional services organizations?
SM: No, I am asking the questions from a platform as a service point of view. I think we are seeing a clear strategy obviously from Salesforce.com and a clear strategy from Microsoft with a somewhat clear strategy from Google. Google is getting great adoption because of the Google apps portfolio, which is very widely adopted in the enterprises also, definitely in small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
MF: Yes, we are a big fan of it.
SM: Yes, right! But I don’t see a stack from IBM in this area. Do you see that, or am I missing something?
MF: IBM does have its place; I believe a lot of their offerings are around private clouds.
SM: Yes, that I know very well. I actually spoke with the head of cloud services at IBM and as well as the CIO, so the private cloud initiative is something we know intimately. However, they are not really marketing that platform as a service product in the same vein as the Google Apps in general.
MF: I don’t believe they are. And they are not part of the public cloud conversation as I see it. As I have been having this conversation a lot, I don’t hear their name being brought up a lot besides within the conversation about the private cloud.
SM: Private cloud, OK, got it!
MF: The players in this phase are the ones you have brought up, and they are still dominant players. Google, Amazon, and us. and More recently Microsoft has come on the scene with a much more immature product, but they have at least publicly shown a commitment to the public cloud.
SM: Yes. Now, let’s talk about Saleforce.com’s strategy from an architectural point of view. Obviously, you have the flagship CRM offering, you have made a big splash with Chatter, and you have bought a whole host of companies. Where is the Saleforce.com portfolio going, aside from platform as a service?
MF: We are going to continue on the path we are on right now, which is to continue to hold out our SAS offering and our platform offerings. We believe there is still more to go, there are still more interesting things to do. On the SssS side of the house, you will see six acquisitions, such as the Jigsaw acquisition last year. What we are observing is something really interesting. We have observed that the world as we know it has changed, and I don’t need to go into all the details of how mobile and social media is changing. We are seeing a need that has come about. It is a need for a type of conversation-centric platform that has come about for CIOs and for organizations, and what I mean by that is that, you got yourself an innovation, you have your customer service organization, you have your marketing, you have your loyalty distribution, your suppliers. You have an entire set of interactions and conversations that are happening, and there is really no way to manage that or bring those conversations together right now.