Salesforce.com was in Seattle on Thursday promoting its cloud-computing product ahead of Microsoft’s anticipated announcements this summer about its competing product Azure. Chief Executive Mark Benioff gave a speech at the Grand Hyatt in downtown Seattle to customers in an event called CloudForce, which is touring the globe.
While better known for its Web-based software that helps sales teams track and close deals, Salesforce.com is moving aggressively into cloud computing and creating a platform where software developers can make applications and deploy them from servers that SalesForce.com runs, rather than on the PC or a company’s server. It has beaten Microsoft to the market and is already selling developers on the cloud product.
For instance, Starbucks approached SalesForce.com shortly after Christmas with an idea: Create an online campaign and Web site called Pledge 5 to encourage community service, launching the same day as the presidential inauguration. Also, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz was scheduled to be on Oprah to promote it, so the site had to be built tough enough to withstand hundreds of thousands of visitors. Systems integrator Apperio built the application, which allows users to seek out volunteer opportunities in their neighborhood, in three weeks.
In another example, a small Bay Area company that manufactures kitchen countertops from recycled glass, Vetrazzo, talked about how they managed their supply chain, each countertop slab and travel expenses with custom programs that one developer built on Salesforce.com’s cloud platform.
Amazon.com is also a player in cloud computing. Microsoft is expected to make announcements about how it will charge people to use Azure, its cloud product, this summer.
(Photo of Marc Benioff: SalesForce.com)