Risk
2/25/2010
07:18 PM
Chris Murphy
Chris Murphy
Commentary
Connect Directly
Google+
LinkedIn
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Global CIO Quick Take: Don't Crown Salesforce Cloud King Just Yet

CEO Marc Benioff has something most companies don’t--blockbuster sales results. But in his latest market expansion, he's in for a fight.

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff did everything short of whistling "zip-a-dee-doo-dah" while discussing the past year's financial results during a conference call this week. What, you didn't have boffo sales growth last year? Your sales aren't up 21% for the year, cash flow up 18%, earnings per share up 82%? Guess you're not Salesforce, then.

"We just went through one of the most horrific times of all time for technology spending," Benioff said. "One of the most difficult times for a lot of companies, and certainly a difficult time for our peers. Yet Salesforce.com kind of sailed through it really well. ... If anything was going to injure us, it's kind of what we have just gone through."

Impressively, 30% of Salesforce's new business growth comes from products other than its flagship salesforce automation service, primarily from its customer service online software and its online custom app platform.

Four years ago, InformationWeek asked in a cover story "Does Salesforce.com Have The Chops To Become A Billion-Dollar Company?" Now that it's on a $1.4 billion-a-year run rate, Benioff has his sites on $2 billion a year, planning to spend on salespeople even if it means slightly slower growth of its profit margin. With only 31% of sales outside the U.S., there's a lot of greenfield out there.

"We're just not in enough deals. ... We need to continue to visualize ourselves beyond that $2 billion revenue number with a fully diversified product line," he said. "That's where we're moving." The next big product in Salesforce's pipeline is Chatter, a Facebook-like collaboration platform it plans to start selling sometime later this year.

It's a growth story that rings true.

What doesn't ring true, though, is Benioff's summary dismissal of legacy vendors as competitors in the cloud. It worked for CRM, where Salesforce.com's tool was one-of-a-kind. But the crowded world of collaboration, where it's headed with Chatter, is a whole other fight.

Chatter is intriguing. But for solving a lot of everyday practical collaboration headaches, so is Microsoft's coming online version of Office. And as far as adopting a SaaS collaboration platform, a lot of CIOs will give a long look this year to Outlook--meaning they'll seriously consider pushing that to the cloud. Or perhaps even replace it with Google Apps, opening new options for collaboration. Can IBM revitalize Lotus with aggressive pricing of a cloud option? Can Cisco turn WebEx into more than an online conference room? Are companies too entrenched with SharePoint to even consider another collaboration platform? I raise all these because there a lot of reasons for CIOs to build additional functions--Facebook-like functions--into collaboration platforms employees already use, rather than bring in another.

Chatter is intriguing because it promises something different--that it'll make collaboration an embedded part of things you already do, and apps you already use. To claim that coveted role, though, Salesforce will have to take on some very real rivals with their own cloud-based stories.

Global CIO small globe Chris Murphy is editor of InformationWeek.

To find out more about Chris Murphy, please visit his page.

For more Global CIO perspectives, check out Global CIO.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Dark Reading Tech Digest, Dec. 19, 2014
Software-defined networking can be a net plus for security. The key: Work with the network team to implement gradually, test as you go, and take the opportunity to overhaul your security strategy.
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2014-5211
Published: 2015-01-27
Stack-based buffer overflow in the Attachmate Reflection FTP Client before 14.1.433 allows remote FTP servers to execute arbitrary code via a large PWD response.

CVE-2014-8154
Published: 2015-01-27
The Gst.MapInfo function in Vala 0.26.0 and 0.26.1 uses an incorrect buffer length declaration for the Gstreamer bindings, which allows context-dependent attackers to cause a denial of service (crash) or possibly execute arbitrary code via unspecified vectors, which trigger a heap-based buffer overf...

CVE-2014-9197
Published: 2015-01-27
The Schneider Electric ETG3000 FactoryCast HMI Gateway with firmware before 1.60 IR 04 stores rde.jar under the web root with insufficient access control, which allows remote attackers to obtain sensitive setup and configuration information via a direct request.

CVE-2014-9198
Published: 2015-01-27
The FTP server on the Schneider Electric ETG3000 FactoryCast HMI Gateway with firmware through 1.60 IR 04 has hardcoded credentials, which makes it easier for remote attackers to obtain access via an FTP session.

CVE-2014-9646
Published: 2015-01-27
Unquoted Windows search path vulnerability in the GoogleChromeDistribution::DoPostUninstallOperations function in installer/util/google_chrome_distribution.cc in the uninstall-survey feature in Google Chrome before 40.0.2214.91 allows local users to gain privileges via a Trojan horse program in the ...

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
If you’re a security professional, you’ve probably been asked many questions about the December attack on Sony. On Jan. 21 at 1pm eastern, you can join a special, one-hour Dark Reading Radio discussion devoted to the Sony hack and the issues that may arise from it.