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Anne Stuart’s BPM in Action

Michael Dortch

The Big Mash-Up Meets the Big Meltdown: Into the Cloud!

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I'm at the Salesforce.com annual prayer meeting, Dreamforce. And Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff is nearly ecstatic. There are nearly 10,000 people here (it's standing room only at the keynote), and many of them (us?) seem almost as excited as Benioff.

Why? Because it's all about the cloud. Moving applications and platforms into the cloud is being positioned as perhaps the sole salvation of software investment during the current economic unpleasantness. And Benioff and his team are promising to "double down" on customers, partners, and the core technologies that enable Salesforce.com's vision of software as a service (SaaS) and cloud computing.

Are Benioff and company right? Well, let's see - 47,000-plus paying customers, ranging from British Gas to Cisco Systems to Japan Post to Kelly Services, with 4,100 added last quarter. Some 10 billion transactions delivered last quarter, according to Benioff. A growing software company in the face of worldwide economic contraction. And a philanthropic foundation that has empowered employees to donate some 100,000 hours of community service, enabled more than 5,000 non-profits to run on Salesforce.com for free, and provided more than $13 million in grants.

But it's not just Benioff and Salesforce.com and their partners. Microsoft just announced Azure, which promises to be Microsoft's extension of Windows into the cloud. Of course, there's no pricing or availability information yet, nor a firm delivery date, but it's still validation of the concept upon which Salesforce.com has been built.

And SaaS and the cloud are working for businesses of all sizes and types. Research I've been conducting recently in my role as an Aberdeen Group analyst indicates that companies pursuing SaaS and cloud computing are seeing increased availability of critical applications and IT ROI, while lowering costs.

And by the way, Benioff just announced Force.com Sites, the ability for Salesforce.com companies to run all of their Web-based applications on the Force.com platform as a service offering. Custom applications can become publicly available, secure Web sites easily and quickly. Users just point their URLs at an alias supported by Salesforce.com, and Web pages, self-registration, domain and URL management and RSS feeds are enabled automatically.

If your company isn't already using SaaS and the cloud, current economic conditions should convince you that it's time to curtail IT infrastructure and software development and maintenance costs. If your company is already using SaaS and the cloud, you should look at Force.com Sites as an opportunity to extend the benefits and ROI you're already enjoying. I'll have more to say about SaaS, the cloud, and how they can help you navigate both The Big Mash-Up and The Big Meltdown more effectively. Meanwhile, let me know your thoughts on all of this stuff, and let's explore it together.

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Business process management and optimization -- philosophies, policies, practices, and punditry.

Anne Stuart

I am the editor of ebizQ.

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