Most of the conversation surrounding cloud computing has been dominated by the desire to cut costs. Instead of treating IT as a capital expense, IT is increasingly being managed as an operational expense in the cloud. Many organizations have discovered that it is a lot simpler to launch new applications in the cloud than it is to ask internal IT organizations to acquire, provision and manage IT infrastructure to run those same applications.
But now that there is enough critical mass in the cloud, something more profound is starting to happen. Businesses are starting to collaborate across cloud ecosystems, both internally and externally. In fact, Mike Rosenbaum, senior vice president of AppExchange and platform operations at Salesforce.com, says that becoming the primary venue for driving that collaboration is what will ultimately differentiate Salesforce.com from just about every other cloud service provider.
At a Cloudforce event today in New York, Salesforce highlighted recent efforts to deliver cloud applications for marketing, as well as a portal for managing business partners based on social networking tools that includes file-sharing capabilities and a touch-enabled client for accessing the core Salesforce customer relationship management (CRM) application.
Rosenbaum says that rather than slugging it out with cloud service providers such as Amazon, Salesforce.com is trying to drive a business Renaissance in the cloud by bringing together a range of applications built by Salesforce.com and third-party application providers. The applications make use of multiple cloud platforms managed by Salesforce.com to drive a new generation of business processes that are inherently social.
Ultimately, Rosenbaum says that while cloud computing can definitely reduce IT costs, the whole point of investing in cloud computing is to dramatically increase productivity. Making that happen requires the democratization of innovation across an organization by giving business users access to a broad range of loosely coupled business processes that are connected via Salesforce streaming and RESTful APIs.
Obviously, cloud computing changes the role of the IT organization, especially as business users become savvier about how IT can actually drive a business process. While any business will applaud a reduction in IT costs, the business as a whole will become highly motivated to embrace social business processes across a cloud ecosystem. It’s that aspect of cloud computing that is going to dominate the cloud computing conversation.