Salesforce: Software is hand-to-hand combat

Company wants the world to take up its software-as-a-service model, and company president Marc Benioff says he will 'change the consciousness of the industry' to do it
Written by Colin Barker, Contributor

Once focused on CRM, Salesforce.com now styles itself as the "success on demand" company, and president and chief executive Marc Benioff believes that with this broad aim he is now ready to "change the consciousness of the industry".

Speaking to journalists at the company's Dreamforce London conference on Wednesday, Benioff was asked about the company's plan to promote the platform-as-a-service (PaaS) model alongside the software-as-a-service (SaaS) model, for which it is better known.

"It is just brute strength," he said.  "It is a lot of the same thing where you just have to get out there and sell. Software tends to be sold, not purchased, and it requires a lot of hand-to-hand combat."

A lot of the burden for this fell on himself as well as his management team, he said. "I have to be willing to do what you saw me doing today and I have also done in Chicago, Boston, New York and we have done it in San Francisco, we have done it in London, we'll do it in Tokyo, we'll do it in 30 cities."

The aim, Benioff said, was to "change the consciousness of the industry so that people can see that there is another alternative to what they have been using". Explaining the alternative offered by Salesforce to software from companies such as Microsoft and SAP was all about "moving one customer at a time, one user at a time, one app at a time".

Benioff said he believed the company now had enough of a track record that organisations should be able to trust it and pointed to its own site, Trust.salesforce.com, where anyone can look up the company's recent track record. 

"We offer real time access through our site and we make sure that our customers understand our performance and our customers have to decide if our performance is good enough for them," said Benioff. "Last year it was 99.95 percent. Obviously, we run it for some of the most important companies in the world and they often say that we run the systems better than they do."

According to the Trust.salesforce.com site, the most recent problem was on 29 April and led to the EMEA server being unable to accept transactions for 25 minutes, and after manual intervention it was returned to normal working. The company has two physical servers and eight virtual servers and has plans to have another server, although there is some confusion on this.

"We currently have two global datacentres and are about to add another two datacentres, one in Asia and another in Europe next year," said Benioff. But according to Peter Coffee, director for platform research at Salesforce, only the Asian centre has been signed off and the European server is just a possibility at the moment.

Benioff, however, is in no doubt about the demand in Europe. "We have always seen Europe following on very fast and if you talk to our European customers, they are not just producing generic apps," he said. "They are customising and integrating and they are building their own platform applications."

Dreamforce Europe continues until Friday.

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