Cloudforce is over, but the memories remain

Well, it’s been an amazing two days — so much fun and so much learning went on. Our heads are spinning. Thanks to Salesforce.com for an amazing conference, some fantastic speakers and a lot of learning.

We think this photo of Salesforce.com director of Platform Research Peter Coffee late yesterday says it all. Catch you next time!

Marc Benioff loves change in the IT sector

The keynote speaker at Cloudforce in Singapore this afternoon was Marc Benioff, the chief executive and chairman of Salesforce.com, who famously founded the cloud computing company in a rented apartment in the closing years of the 1990s after leaving a lucrative career at rival Oracle.

I thought the best way to give a taste of the sorts of things that Benioff was talking about was to show you this short video clip of the CEO answering a question from a journalist at the press conference after the keynote.

In short, Benioff is an executive that likes change. His keynote speech this afternoon was full of examples of things Salesforce.com is doing to move its cloud computing vision forward. It’s all part of a vision the company is pushing to start describing the next wave of cloud services as “Cloud 2”.

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Lunch with Marc Benioff and Cloudforce food

We chatted to this Salesforce.com partner on the floor at Cloudforce in Singapore and asked him how he thought Marc Benioff’s speech would go. “I had lunch with him at the New York event!” he said.

And with all the amazing odours coming out of the floor at Cloudforce, we couldn’t resist taking a brief video of the delicious food attendees were treated to.

Altium CIO Alan Perkins: Video interview

We didn’t quite get this video ready in time for the last post, but we also interviewed Altium chief information officer Alan Perkins — whose company is a very heavy user of Salesforce.com, about what he thinks about the company’s services, what he likes, and what Salesforce.com can do better.

Alan’s a great guy — and he’ll talk tech until the cows come home, so we had to cut down the interview a little ;)

Customers on Salesforce: What’s good, what can be done better

In these videos filmed yesterday, we asked two Salesforce.com customers from across the Asia-Pacific region about the company. The questions were:

  • How does your company use Salesforce.com?
  • What do you like about Salesforce.com as a solution?
  • What can Salesforce.com do better?
  • What do you think of the upcoming Chatter product from Salesforce.com

The first video is with Sumeet Vaid, founder and MD of Ffreedom Financial Planners:

And secondly, Toby Koh, managing director of Ademco:

Saasy gets his groove on: Video

Wandering around the showroom floor at Cloudforce, we bumped into Salesforce.com mascot Saasy getting his groove on.

Things are heating up

Not many of the attendees at Cloudforce have arrived just yet (although we did see a few getting some work done on their laptops in front of the registration desk. But support staff, and food and drinks have started to flood in to support the expected thousands of guests.

That registration desk — completely empty yesterday — now hosts several dozen staff — although they don’t have much to do just yet!

A sea of goodie bags await attendees.

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What is the definition of cloud computing?

Several Salesforce.com speakers at the company’s Cloudforce conference in Singapore yesterday went to great lengths to define what exactly they felt the term ‘cloud computing meant’.

There is a great deal of debate at the moment within the IT community about whether cloud computing can encompass a variety of platforms — for example, extensible infrastructure hosted within a companies’ own datacenters, infrastructure hosted within an IT services company’s datacenters (for example, Fujitsu or CSC), and then infrastructure hosted within a technology vendor’s datacenters (for example, Salesforce.com or Microsoft).

Many in the industry are also interested in defining the term ‘private cloud’ in this context.

Salesforce.com executive vice president for the Asia-Pacific region and Japan, Lindsey Armstrong (pictured), referred to what she called “cloudy” or “ghost cloud” for solutions that didn’t go to the level of software and hardware abstraction as Salesforce.com’s — which are hosted entirely within its own datacenters.

“Private cloud to me is just a datacenter, re-branded,” said Armstrong.

The executive added that the term ‘private cloud’ was really more towards the ASP model that received quite a degree of hype throughout the 1990s and earlier this decade.

Referring to cloud computing solutions that were on customers’ own premises, Salesforce.com director of Platform Research Peter Coffee was even more blunt.

“If someone shows up with a large truck and says ‘I have your cloud here’, contradiction alarms should ring,” he said.

Coffee also took a stab at Microsoft’s rival Azure cloud computing solution, which he said had “finally” arrived this year, “after a year and a half of it being discussed as a brand”.

In general, Coffee is a strong evangelist for cloud computing. He said he was “happy to be challenged over dinner” by anyone who could find an example of where something couldn’t be done in the cloud. “I’d be very happy to find you an example,” he said.

You can view the full video of Armstrong’s presentation — which also included details of Salesforce.com’s APAC financial results for the first quarter of 2011, below.

What would you ask Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff?

Later on today at the Cloudforce conference in Singapore, I’ll be attending a keynote presentation and then media question and answer session with Salesforce.com chief executive and founder Marc Benioff.

If you have a question that you would like to ask Benioff, post it in the comments below this article, or send me a tweet on Twitter (I’m @renailemay) and I’ll do my best to get it into the Q&A session.

Benioff is an interesting guy. You can read more about him on his Wikipedia page or Salesforce.com’s official site, but suffice it to say that he’s pretty much a self-made man. After a successful career at Oracle, he started Salesforce.com in 1999 in a rented San Francisco apartment — its mission to stop providing software and start providing services to customers.

And we all know how that went — Salesforce.com isn’t quite as big as Oracle yet — but it’s certainly not doing too badly ;)

Personally I’m most interested in hearing from Benioff about what the main obstacles along the way have been to his success — and also about how he pushed past them.

Poetry in motion at Cloudforce

Sometimes professional photographers can really capture the essence of a person if they take *just* the right shot, at just the right angle, when that person isn’t really watching — and I think this happened yesterday :)

A stack of photos taken by Salesforce.com’s event photographer at the Cloudforce media briefings yesterday have been posted on the official Salesforce.com Asia-Pacific Flickr account — and I think some of them are just stunning. Here are some of my favourites.

I like this photo of Lien Foundation’s chief executive Lee Poh Wah, because I feel you can see the passion for his cause just rolling off him. He really cares about Lien’s mission to bring about a better world.

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