The evolution of Salesforce from application to platform has been dramatic with their “cloud” growing in size, capability and available third party support. Now one of their largest clients is joining forces with them a deal that has many pundits scratching their heads.
The new partner is HP, the computer integration giant, and is also Salesforce’s biggest customer. In a deal announced on November 19th the two companies are creating a service aimed at organizations with extensive IT infrastructure and concerns about security and regulatory compliance in an “all cloud” platform.
As part of the deal HP is putting dedicated computer servers, data storage and networking into Salesforce cloud-computing facilities. This is in effect creating dedicated HP systems that would be configured to the specific needs of the client organization. This is something that Salesforce is currently unable to do via its main cloud.
Marc Benioff, Salesforce’s co-founder and chief executive, notes “The reality is, this is a whole new vision of cloud computing, it’s a public, private cloud — public cloud services but with dedicated hardware. Speed, with control.”
The new product dubbed “Superpod” has been designed with big customers in mind. These are customers that reflect a growing trend, “I think there is a lot of push from big clients to be treated differently. Something that I see in our discussions is how you can still preserve the positives of a cloud portfolio, like agility and fast releases in innovation, though have a private addition,” according to Sven Denecken, SAP’s VP of Cloud Solutions Strategy, “There are clients who want that. I don’t think cloud computing has made the life easier for companies and for IT because landscapes are heterogeneous, they get more heterogeneous.”
In many ways this effort bucks some of “the clouds” traditional thinking. Primarily there it has been that any kind of equipment in the cloud can be used in order to get the most out of the gear and that the only thing that counts is the software that connects it all.
Superpod has HP stacks sitting next to more traditional cloud resources but designed to be a single tenant, rather than the more multi-tenant setup in most clouds. All involved believe that organizations, like banking or healthcare for example, will be among the first to target with this type of infrastructure as it alleviates their concerns about security and regulatory compliance.
Nonetheless, big or small, the advantages of particularly the growing prowess of Salesforce as a platform show that even mid-sized companies can do more than ever before with the platform. It also points to the need for solid expert input into your adoption of Salesforce. As it is a platform with a great deal of flexibility for customization, development resources exist that can help you maximize your use of SF.
For small to mid-size companies you can reduce the cost of the resources by employing outsourced services. Development vendors with “in country” project managers and offshore development teams, can often conduct your projects with the highest level of expertise but at costs that reflect their large pool of low cost development personnel.
The SF/HP deal is a new wrinkle in the cloud universe but one that only time will tell if it adds sufficient value for customers despite its “slightly higher price”. If it is worth it, we will know soon enough.