Marc Benioff continues to flesh out his vision of on-demand computing. It's easy to mistake Marc's showmanship for hype, but salesforce's fundamental value proposition continues to become reality. From its humble beginnings as "The Death of Software" and Benioff's proclamation of harnessing the power of Web services, salesforce.com has grown to actually use the technologies it championed since the faintest stirrings of the SOA paradigm.
What Marc calls an on-demand operating system is now in place, a good thing given the meltdown that occured last month on the service. More significantly, developers now have full sandbox replication tools and users finally have a working offline edition. Never one to leave a viral trend alone, Marc and SVP and GM, applications George Hu demoed a nifty Google Maps mashup, sort of a Web 2.0 disintermediating of Excel and Project.
Marc even appears to understand the fundamental value, if not yet the disruptive quality, of RSS and "social production," where creating and provisioning apps should be "as easy as creating blogs." But again, what separates Marc from the boys is that no matter how clever and Barnumesque his commandeering of buzztrends are, history continues to show that eventually these themes will manifest themselves as actual services, and well before others who are now beginning to turn their ships to meet the new tide.
Photo: Dan Farber
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--Google, Skype, iTunes all interoperating over salesforce' AppExchange.