Marc Benioff, CEO at Salesforce.com, 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.
Salesforce.com 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 Salesforce.com 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.