SAN FRANCISCO -- Cloud is the architectural shift that we've been awaiting for IT and enterprise software, asserted venture capitalist Marc Andreessen while speaking at BoxWorks 2011 on Wednesday morning.
"Nothing that has came before compares to what is happening now," Andreessen said, arguing that the new companies being built like Box are different kinds of companies -- many of which might have not have had a chance before around the time of the last Dot Com bubble.
"Everything we were talking about in the 1990s is actually working now," Andreessen said to laughter from the audience.
Andreessen, who is also an investor in Box, used the example of one of his former companies, Netscape, which had 50 million users at its peak. At that time, that was really the entire Internet market. Of course, now in the era where Facebook has 800 million users worldwide and counting, it's incomparable.
"Facebook would have been impossible" 10 years ago, Andreessen said, arguing that it would have been the same thing for any new cloud enterprise companies as well. But now, it costs so much less to run Box or Salesforce.com compared to Oracle's Siebel, among others, just a few years ago as the price for enterprise software to customers is so much lower. He added that Oracle and other storage providers need to catch up as old software platforms and solutions are just not cutting it anymore as other companies offer cheaper and better products for small to enterprise businesses.
Andreessen also joked that investors, entrepreneurs, and reporters who were so burned by the bubble bust now find it hard to see these things taking off finally without getting upset.
"The technology actually works now," Andreessen affirmed, whether it be loading up Google instantly to software, servers and cloud computing.
Nevertheless, Andreessen admitted that it's still hard to get this stuff to work to scale.
Andreessen gave particular credit to Salesforce.com CEO and chairman Marc Benioff, saying that he was first one to stick his head out and say that enterprise software should be as easy for employees to handle as Amazon is for consumers.
The future of enterprise computing is evident by looking at what is happening on the consumer side, Andreessen predicted, adding that Box, Salesforce, and Workday have all been built in the image of Amazon, Facebook and Twitter.