Cool Solutions

Let’s Not Be Rigid In Defining the Cloud


September 23, 2010 2:12 pm





Marc Benioff, CEO at, and cloud evangelist, extraordinaire, took the stage yesterday at Oracle World and tried to put cloud computing in his own little box. I wasn’t there, mind you, but I was following along via Twitter, and Benioff, a very smart man with a lot of vision, was dead wrong here.

First Lauen McKay tweeted this:

“Benioff: What we need is a cloud computing test. We need to look, are we buying more hw and sw? are upgrades happing automatically or is…”

So first of all Benioff wants a litmus test that defines cloud computing in his company’s terms.

Then according to Brent Leary, he said this:

Benioff: beware of the false cloud….as he shows an image of an IBM machine… #oow10

Ah, so there you have it. There is the “real cloud” and the so-called “false cloud.” You probably know where this is heading, but if you need me to spell it out, the “false cloud” is the private cloud. In Benioff’s rather narrow minded view, if it isn’t exactly like Salesforce, it’s not “real.”

This is not the path this discussion should be headed, certainly not with one of the founding fathers of public cloud computing leading the way. We don’t need to be pigeon-holing the technology like this. There is plenty of room for everyone in the big cloud computing tent and many folks will take one path or the other. Many more will combine the two. lead the way in cloud computing when nobody else thought much of the model. You have to give Benioff high marks for having the foresight to create an entirely new business model and convincing people to take their customer data and place it on someone else’s servers.

But the way Benioff does cloud computing is not the only way to do it. Many companies want to get the same efficiencies that gets (using just 1500 servers for 83,000 customers). Why should a company that that wants to keep its data on its own servers be denied the same advantages of the cloud?

It’s taking the same model that Benioff has been championing all these years and moving it in-house behind the firewall. It’s no less valid, no less legitmate, no less real–because it’s private on your own servers.

Let’s put an end to this us versus them mentality right now because there is no good reason to have this argument. Public, private or hybrid, you do what’s best for you and don’t concern yourself with narrow definitions and semantic hair splitting.

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  1. By:FlyingGuy

    then what he said? Dude, this guy wants your data, he wants it bad and he is hell bent on convincing the world that his way is the best and only way you should do it, and preferably on his servers!

    This guy is all about FUD. He will “Balmerize” as opposed to proselytize about any model of remote computing other then his own.

    His statement was a direct throw down against anyone doing it differently then his company does. I bet he would fit right in at Microsoft. I can’t help laughing at those fools because they are just going to chew on each other and try to convince the brain dead PHB’s that using Sales Force will get them a bigger fatter bonus because they can lay off all their highly trained and highly paid ( and rightly so ) that their model is superior to the other when in fact they are all really really sub-par compared to anything running a fat client.

    The browser was, is and will always be a second rate environment in which to run an application.

  2. By:rsmiller510

    Let’s be real here, this wasn’t Benioff’s best speech (at least the parts I was privy too), but I think Salesforce is a brilliant model. As I’ve written, you can apply a lot of the lessons that Saleforce has taught to the private cloud behind the firewall.

    Yet you continually refuse to acknowledge that. The browser may be second rate in your view, but it’s pretty darn efficient and it’s where I (and many, many people I know) live most of my working day using online services.

    Thanks for your comments and continuing to read my posts even when you clearly don’t agree with anything I write.


    • By:FlyingGuy

      Hey Ron,

      We don’t disagree that much. What we mainly disagree on the presentation. You know the sizzle? There is nothing fundamentally wrong if a company wants to use Sales Force or Intuit, or Gmail for that matter.

      The problem is with people, like you sorry to say, that speak about it like it is some sort of Magic wand. Just wave it an it will all be great!

      Nothing could be further from the truth! It takes months of planning and conversion to make these things happen and there are plenty of tripping points along the way.

      As to the browser. Yup I am writing this in a browser and it is messy. Some of the HTML/CSS did not work quite as expected and so this paragraph as I write it is miles down the page from your comment. Gotta love it.

      I don’t know if you have ever done any sort of programming to try and make data work in the browser, but as someone who does this on a daily basis I am here to tell you it just sucks. Tools originally designed for displaying text make lousy application interfaces. Don’t believe start talking to some programmers.

      But I digress. Read my reply to your latest post. Don’t take offense or even a gaet for that matter.


  3. By:rsmiller510

    Hi Bill:
    The thing is this post was about trying to define the cloud. Nobody was suggesting it’s a magic wand. I don’t recall ever suggesting that. All of this takes work, whether it’s a public or private cloud.

    What the public cloud takes out of the equation is hardware set up and ongoing upgrades. That’s done by the provider, but it doesn’t take everything else involved out of the process.

    With a private cloud, it’s probably more up-front work to redesign the data center.

    So on that point we can agree.

    And this is not the best content management environment I’ve ever come across, so I don’t think you can necessarily judge all browser-based tools on this one.

    And don’t worry, no offense taken.