Although I’ve been a bit busy of late, I did find time today to visit the Dreamforce 2010 Expo, and to see the morning’s keynote. There is an overwhelming marketing bias at all conferences of this ilk, but I am never disappointed when I take the time to listen to a Benioff rant. This morning started with a dose of his anti-Microsoft argument, and peaked in his familiar evangelistic tenor; he warned us against the evils of the “false cloud,” railed against those who would slow the advancement of the cloud vision with scare tactics, and even converted a customer who was used in a Microsoft anti-Salesforce ad back into the fold, right in front of a cheering audience of believers. Can I get an AMEN??
But even with all the showboating, the glossy brochures, the super-peppy marketing people, the will.i.am, etc., there is something real about the positive mood of this place, the optimism of the business and technical people milling about Moscone Center. It’s the feeling of critical mass, of belonging to the right community at the right time; in fact, it’s the feeling I had ten years ago, the first time I attended JavaOne.
Earlier this year, I attended the OracleWorld+JavaOne 2010 conference (just the JavaOne part), and I came away from it perhaps a bit better informed on select topics, but completely deflated from a community momentum point of view. I’ve been a solid advocate of Java technologies, and I will continue to value them and use them in my work, but it is clear that the momentum is moving in the direction of IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS offerings, very few of which emphasize Java technologies at their core (although many support Java for investment protection purposes).
Conversely, the Force.com universe is ever-expanding, offering more enterprise software capabilities with every release. Recent announcements like the planned acquisition of Heroku (a Ruby-on-Rails PaaS vendor), a database-only platform service, a free Chatter service, and the variety of improvements in Force 2 platform lend credence to the claim that Salesforce.com can solve most IT-related business problems, especially for mid-sized businesses that want to compete with the big dogs on a level playing field.
This mix of new capabilities arriving at an exceptional rate and the fervor of Marc Benioff and friends can fuel the big cloud shift for the near term, but it is platform adoption by an increasing number of customers and partners that will provide the sustaining force needed to revolutionize the IT industry in the long run. My bets remain on the cloud.