Marc Benioff outlined that latest info on the Winter '06 platform of salesforce.com and talked it up as the "Business Web"--on demand, software-as-a-service mixed with Web 2.0. Instead of "no software," the Business Web is now the theme, which at least shows some maturing in the marketing.
Basically, what was announced previously is now in production, and the two new data centers have been cranked up and the software platform has been rewritten, Benioff said. Mirroring between the two datacenters will begin next month. Salesforce.com has had some recent outages that exposed the soft underbelly of the company.
The big announcement was the launch of AppExchange, which Benioff expressed as the "power of social production." Application developers are creating their own content with mashups, blogs, Web 2.0, Benioff added. "The concept of the Web is social production. It's not just limited to open source--with standard platforms we can harness the power of social production. It should be just as easy as publishing blogs," he said. "We are encouraging customers to push their apps into the AppExchange. The Business Web is the future of computing," Benioff declared. Then he went into his usual prediction of the demise for competitors who haven't jumped on the Business Web--they are too vesting into their maintenance revenue streams and old models.
It's a stretch to call AppExchange a hub of social production. Like eBay, it is an exchange hub that can result in productivity. It's not social other than using in a common platform that requires subscriptions and platform fees for salesforce.com. At this point, salesforce.com hasn't fleshed out a plan that would allow customers to unbundle the salesforce.com CRM application and subscription from the development platform.
If mashups can be considered social, like meeting at a bar, then call them social, but that's a liberal application of the term. Henry Gomez, SVP and general manager of Skype USA, was on stage to show integration of Skype's conferencing application integrated with salesforce.com. Salesforce.com's chief demo man and vice president of developer marketing Adam Gross also showed off a number of integrated applications, such as Business Object's Crystal Reports. AppExchange is starting off with 50 components and 160 applications, Benioff said.
Henry Gomez, Skype; Marc Benioff and Adam Gross of salesforce.com
Benioff touted large deployments--ADP with 6,700 subscribers, Merrill Lynch with over 5,000, Cisco over 4,500, Sprint over 3,100 and Symantec with 3,900--as evidence that on-demand software is for real.
Steve Gillmor is blogging from the event:
Marc is technology's Marilyn Monroe, too pretty to be taken seriously but impossible to ignore. And just as her beauty resonated with a profoundly disruptive comic sensibility, so too does Marc's intuitive grasp of the opportunities of the network let him continue to sell first and then deliver on the promise. It's a high-wire act, but one that both depends on and leverages the loosely coupled nature of the multinodal synergistic nature of the Web 2.0 alliance.
Update: Here's a link to the Webcast of the salesforce.com AppExchange launch event.