Why So Many Clouds? A Dreamforce '10 Reaction

12/14/2010 by Justin Edelstein
After spending a week in San Francisco for the Salesforce.com User and Developer Conference Dreamforce I have some questions around the strategy of the Salesforce.com platform - mainly, why so many clouds?

For years Salesforce.com has been building up their brand as the leading cloud computing Platform as a Service. As part of their strategy they have always displayed the platform in swim-lanes with little chick-lets representing different parts of their platform. This swim-lane always had their products or clouds at the top including Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, Force.com, and most recently Chatter Collaboration Cloud. These four clouds worked - it was concise, understandable, and all of the functionality within the chick-lets below fit within these four product lines.

Muddying The Waters


At Dreamforce '10 Salesforce muddied the waters by adding four new clouds to the top of the swim-lane chart. Some were logical like Jigsaw Data Cloud and Database.com but others didn't make a whole lot of sense to me - the Heroku Cloud and the Remedyforce Cloud don't seem like clouds that should be on the top level of the Salesforce.com

branding/platform stack - they seem to be squeezed in to the chart in the wrong area.

The Heroku Cloud is an acquisition of a Ruby development platform that lives in the cloud. This is a nice acquisition for Salesforce because it opens up their platform to even more developers and yet another language, but, shouldn't Ruby development be just a chick-let within the Force.com platform? Why it's own cloud on the top of the PaaS Pyramid? The Force.com platform should be the most important item on the chart with all functionality or products that fall under it, not be an equal to another development platform that happens to run within Force.com.

False Cloud? No. Too Many Clouds? Yes.


For my money the worst offender is the Remedyforce or the Remedy cloud because this just seems like a product that BMC software built and sold to Salesforce. Doesn't this belong in the Appexchange? It seems to dilute the value of having something called ISVforce for partners if you are just going to buy a product that a large software company built. I understand that it proves the viability of the

Force.com platform but isn't the point of having the platform and an app marketplace to encourage independent developers to develop their product on the platform and sell it themselves? I just don't understand why Salesforce would go this route of purchasing an app and not even rebranding it in any way shape or form like they did with Ideas and Content; and to make matters worse, put it on the top of their platform chart with it's own cloud. Remedy might be a great product for internal IT organizations but couldn't BMC just sell it on the Appexchange? Next thing you know every large partner of Salesforce will get their own cloud on top of the branding chart. Soon there will be more clouds then chick-lets and the whole message will be diluted.

Keep It Simple


To me the reason why Salesforce has been successful is that their messaging has been simple. You subscribe to a Platform as a Service and you get these things below in the chart according to your level of licensing. You want to use the Sales Cloud and build a custom app - go for it; you want to use the Service Cloud and tack on Chatter - go right ahead. Now though, with all these clouds on the top of the chart, I'm not even sure where to start...and it's my job to know these things! I guess I will be studying up like always after a Dreamforce.

If you want to talk more about the Clouds and how many there are feel free to comment on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/arkusinc or send a tweet to me at www.twitter.com/JustEdelstein.