Over 27,000 cloud computer enthusiasts are congregating in San Francisco this week. We’re being hosted by Marc Benioff the Founder and CEO of Salesforce.com at a conference called Dreamforce. Benioff has grown Salesforce.com from a startup in a rented apartment into the world’s fastest growing software company in less than a decade.
A few months ago, I was at the Royal Festival Hall where Benioff presented to a circa 2,000 head audience in a London gathering called CloudForce at the Royal Festival Hall. In the Youtube clip below he says:
As we’ve travelled around the world in the last 12 years our message has been clear: Cloud computing is the future. The first time I came to London I did not play at the Royal Festival Hall- and I think there were about 4 people that showed up – two of them were lost and the other two came for the free food!
There are a few things I’m hoping to figure out at Dreamforce
1) Is, as Benioff evangelises, Cloud Computing and more specifically Salesforce.com really for companies of any size? My experience is that SMEs in Europe are battling to afford the per seat charges that Salesforce.com expect. Is pricing the barrier and what is the extent of customisation. I advised a big-budgeted financial services company (with 800 employees globally) who were looking at Salesforce.com and, disappointingly, they couldn’t afford it.
2) Are the hurdles in the European race to Cloud Computing higher than our compatriots’ in the US? Firstly there’s the culture, fear and lack of understanding. Secondly there’s the bandwidth issue in the UK – working in the cloud can’t be achieved on bandwidth speeds that most of the population outside the major cities have to settle for. Why are we Europeans slower to adopt new technologies?
3) At Cloudforce London, Benioff promised a UK data centre in 2011 – but is this enough to alleviate worries about data being transported across borders. I need to understand more.
4) How easy and feasible is it for SMEs to custom develop applications on the force.com platform and is this something on which I should be looking to skill up?
Of course I’m also looking forward to hearing President Bill Clinton’s address and Stevie Wonder sing at the Gala concert on Tuesday night. For those who won’t be here you can register to watch Benioff’s keynote online on Tuesday afternoon European time. It’s really something you won’t regret.