A trip to San Francisco is almost always fun…unless of course you have to drive into city on the 101. But next week, luckily, I’ll be flying in from Texas. Along with me, thousands of people will descend on the Moscone Center in downtown San Francisco for Dreamforce ’10, salesforce.com’s annual user and developer conference. Salesforce.com touts the conference as the “Cloud Computing Event of the Year” and with an anticipated record attendance of more than 20,000 it is not exaggerating. Coming right on the heels of a strong year for the company and its 87,200 customers, the energy and excitement there should be palpable. Couple that with the momentum cloud computing is seeing in the market and it’s bound to be quite a celebration.
Dreamforce draws customers, prospects and partners from across the globe. A growing industry of services and other cloud-based applications has blossomed around salesforce.com and Dreamforce serves as one of the single biggest opportunities these firms have to generate leads and nurture business partnerships. Many companies in attendance are doing their share of innovating and some may be the future powerhouses of cloud computing. But the companies I’m most interested in talking to are the smaller businesses looking to leverage the cloud to achieve real business results. And frankly I think they have the most to gain from the stuff on display at Dreamforce.
Here’s a video that gives a good overview of what Dreamforce is all about:
As its name implies, salesforce.com began its journey focusing on delivering services that made sales teams more productive – more commonly known as sales force automation. But the company had an interesting idea. Why not deliver sales force automation – which helps customers manage their contacts, leads and opportunities – over the internet like a web site so there is no hardware of software to buy and maintain? It would almost always be accessible, get businesses out of the ‘business’ of managing infrastructure and because it is delivered through a web browser, it is as simple to use as most web sites. Two other big benefits also emerged – people could pay for only as much as they needed to use and because it was essentially only one application that everyone was using, it could be updated with new features and functionality very often. Far more often than most on-premise software vendors could dream of. For companies using spreadsheet and email applications to manage their customer leads and prospects, it was a no brainer and an instant return on investment. Salesforce.com had harnessed the power of cloud computing as a disruptive force in the software market.
Fast forward 11 years and salesforce.com is now well known as a leader in the enterprise cloud computing space. It expanded its offerings to beyond customer relationship management (CRM) to include customer service and enterprise social collaboration. These offerings now cover two key areas of cloud computing – cloud based applications (often referred to as software-as-a-service) and cloud based application platforms (often referred to as platform-as-a-service). The latter is known as the company’s Force.com enterprise cloud computing platform, which allows companies to build custom applications using the same underlying services salesforce.com uses.
Dell has always been an active participant in Dreamforce over the years. As one of salesforce.com’s largest customers and important partners, Dell has seen a number of its own executives take the stage including our CEO Michael. While this year we aren’t doing a keynote, I do think this year is a unique one for Dell. Aside from our own impressive Q3 performance, Dell is building momentum as a provider of cloud computing technology in all of our customer segments. Our Data Center Solutions team is blazing a trail in the largest cloud deployments. We recently enhanced our internal cloud deployments by rolling out Salesforce Chatter enterprise wide. We offer an incredible array of end-user devices, including smartphones, to consume these cloud applications. But most relevant to the companies attending Dreamforce, we offer the leading cloud integration technology from Boomi, an acquisition we closed only a few weeks ago.
Boomi addresses the number one challenge companies face when adopting cloud applications – integration. Salesforce.com’s service stores data and there are many other applications that could be a lot more productive by leveraging it. Typing in customer data into two different systems is not fun (or productive) and custom developing your own connections between Salesforce CRM and another application is expensive, time consuming and difficult to manage (that constant innovation means that cloud computing providers change their integration points, knows as APIs, all the time). Boomi solves all that with an easy to use drag and drop interface, technology that recommends configuration based on what everyone else is doing and no hardware to buy. You heard that right – no hardware to buy. Like Salesforce CRM, Boomi is in the cloud and comes with all the benefits that I mentioned above.
Along with the rest of the Dell team (including our new friends from Boomi), I’m looking forward to the event and to Dell becoming an even larger part of the cloud computing dialogue. And despite the fact some folks might not want us to tweet at certain times during the event, we’ll be actively talking about the event from our booth on Twitter @DellDF412 and @Boomi. You can also follow me at @DeckeratDell for updates during the event. And I’ll be sure to capture some video of Stevie Wonder at the big gala on my Streak 🙂