Welcome!

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.


Latest Stories
When shopping for a new data processing platform for IoT solutions, many development teams want to be able to test-drive options before making a choice. Yet when evaluating an IoT solution, it’s simply not feasible to do so at scale with physical devices. Building a sensor simulator is the next best choice; however, generating a realistic simulation at very high TPS with ease of configurability is a formidable challenge. When dealing with multiple application or transport protocols, you would be...
WebRTC is great technology to build your own communication tools. It will be even more exciting experience it with advanced devices, such as a 360 Camera, 360 microphone, and a depth sensor camera. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Masashi Ganeko, a manager at INFOCOM Corporation, will introduce two experimental projects from his team and what they learned from them. "Shotoku Tamago" uses the robot audition software HARK to track speakers in 360 video of a remote party. "Virtual Teleport" uses a...
Any startup has to have a clear go –to-market strategy from the beginning. Similarly, any data science project has to have a go to production strategy from its first days, so it could go beyond proof-of-concept. Machine learning and artificial intelligence in production would result in hundreds of training pipelines and machine learning models that are continuously revised by teams of data scientists and seamlessly connected with web applications for tenants and users.
IT organizations are moving to the cloud in hopes to approve efficiency, increase agility and save money. Migrating workloads might seem like a simple task, but what many businesses don’t realize is that application migration criteria differs across organizations, making it difficult for architects to arrive at an accurate TCO number. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Joe Kinsella, CTO of CloudHealth Technologies, will offer a systematic approach to understanding the TCO of a cloud application...
"With Digital Experience Monitoring what used to be a simple visit to a web page has exploded into app on phones, data from social media feeds, competitive benchmarking - these are all components that are only available because of some type of digital asset," explained Leo Vasiliou, Director of Web Performance Engineering at Catchpoint Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Secure Channels, a cybersecurity firm, 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. Secure Channels, Inc. offers several products and solutions to its many clients, helping them protect critical data from being compromised and access to computer networks from the unauthorized. The company develops comprehensive data encryption security strategie...
SYS-CON Events announced today that App2Cloud 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. App2Cloud is an online Platform, specializing in migrating legacy applications to any Cloud Providers (AWS, Azure, Google Cloud).
The goal of Continuous Testing is to shift testing left to find defects earlier and release software faster. This can be achieved by integrating a set of open source functional and performance testing tools in the early stages of your software delivery lifecycle. There is one process that binds all application delivery stages together into one well-orchestrated machine: Continuous Testing. Continuous Testing is the conveyer belt between the Software Factory and production stages. Artifacts are m...
WebRTC is the future of browser-to-browser communications, and continues to make inroads into the traditional, difficult, plug-in web communications world. The 6th WebRTC Summit continues our tradition of delivering the latest and greatest presentations within the world of WebRTC. Topics include voice calling, video chat, P2P file sharing, and use cases that have already leveraged the power and convenience of WebRTC.
Cloud resources, although available in abundance, are inherently volatile. For transactional computing, like ERP and most enterprise software, this is a challenge as transactional integrity and data fidelity is paramount – making it a challenge to create cloud native applications while relying on RDBMS. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Claus Jepsen, Chief Architect and Head of Innovation Labs at Unit4, will explore that in order to create distributed and scalable solutions ensuring high availa...
For financial firms, the cloud is going to increasingly become a crucial part of dealing with customers over the next five years and beyond, particularly with the growing use and acceptance of virtual currencies. There are new data storage paradigms on the horizon that will deliver secure solutions for storing and moving sensitive financial data around the world without touching terrestrial networks. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Cliff Beek, President of Cloud Constellation Corporation, d...
Internet-of-Things discussions can end up either going down the consumer gadget rabbit hole or focused on the sort of data logging that industrial manufacturers have been doing forever. However, in fact, companies today are already using IoT data both to optimize their operational technology and to improve the experience of customer interactions in novel ways. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Gordon Haff, Red Hat Technology Evangelist, shared examples from a wide range of industries – including en...
In IT, we sometimes coin terms for things before we know exactly what they are and how they’ll be used. The resulting terms may capture a common set of aspirations and goals – as “cloud” did broadly for on-demand, self-service, and flexible computing. But such a term can also lump together diverse and even competing practices, technologies, and priorities to the point where important distinctions are glossed over and lost.
In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, Kelly Looney, director of DevOps consulting for Skytap, showed how an incremental approach to introducing containers into complex, distributed applications results in modernization with less risk and more reward. He also shared the story of how Skytap used Docker to get out of the business of managing infrastructure, and into the business of delivering innovation and business value. Attendees learned how up-front planning allows for a clean sep...
Most companies are adopting or evaluating container technology - Docker in particular - to speed up application deployment, drive down cost, ease management and make application delivery more flexible overall. As with most new architectures, this dream takes a lot of work to become a reality. Even when you do get your application componentized enough and packaged properly, there are still challenges for DevOps teams to making the shift to continuous delivery and achieving that reduction in cost ...