There's a famous logo that has permeated Salesforce's marketing messages for years. It's a red slash over the words "Software" to symbolize "no software." The truth, though, is that Salesforce has never been about eliminating software; it was about changing the way we provision it.
Instead of buying software licenses and installing it on your own hardware in your own datacenter, Salesforce transformed the industry by introducing the notion of running the software on its servers and selling subscriptions.
This approach of several customers running on the same server at the same time came to be known as multi-tenancy, and it made resource distribution far more efficient.
This idea eventually came to be called the cloud. As I wandered the halls, buildings and various venues of Dreamforce, Salesforce.com's enormous customer conference this week, the cloud was a given. It was part of everything here.
The conference, which is part pep rally, part circus, and part sales pitch, is an enormous undertaking. They even created a park between the various venues, complete with picnic tables and astro turf.
We're Talking Large
According to the propaganda, more than 160,000 people registered, and by some estimates at least 100,000 of those people attended. That is a seriously big deal, and it had a huge impact on the entire neighborhood around The Moscone Center where it was held.
There were crowds wandering the sidewalks between venues. There were busses shuttling people across the campus (as they called it), and there were cops at every intersection controlling traffic and helping direct the enormous crowds of people across the streets.
Inside there were keynotes from the likes of Uber CEO Travis Kalanick and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. There was entertainment from Stevie Wonder and a big party featuring The Foo Fighters. There was a public service component to collect a million books for schools. The place was so big, it was difficult to get a grip on exactly what was happening at any given moment, but it was clear this was a celebration of the power of Salesforce.
Marc Benioff reported that company now runs 11 datacenters worldwide. Last quarter, those datacenters processed 234 billion transactions, a 79-percent increase over the previous year. Benioff reported with some amazement and lots of pride, that his company is now the fourth biggest software company in the world behind only Microsoft, Oracle, and SAP — some pretty heady company.
He also pointed out the company's major service commitment with more than a million hours of service by company employees and $100 million in grants.
The small software company with no software really has changed the way we buy and sell software, but it's not because it eliminated software. It just changed the model, and that has changed an entire industry. Dreamforce was a celebration of all that.
Photo Credit: Wikipedia