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Cloud computing is also about efficiency, Benioff said. Salesforce.com serves its entire 83,000 global customer base, as well as the 300,000 apps these firms are running on its cloud infrastructure, on 15,00 Dell PCs, Benioff said, drawing a line between his company's strategy and Oracle's growing focus on hardware.
"Beware of the false cloud," Benioff said. "If you have to buy more hardware, it's not really cloud."
Beneath all this posturing, Benioff did touch on some real news. Salesforce.com on Wednesday unveiled Chatter 2, an update to the Chatter client it rolled out in June that applies Facebook-like functionality to business settings.
Chatter 2 adds a feature that lets users recommend colleagues and groups, as well as Chatter feed filters that give users control over the volume and types of updates they receive, such as specific customers and deals.
"It looks and acts and feels like Facebook," said Kraig Swensrud, senior vice president of product marketing at Salesforce.com, said during the keynote. "Instead of status updating about your personal life, you update about work, and seek advice and feedback."
Dell has 20,000 employees using Chatter, and the use cases span from helping boost the company's sales presence and obtain better leads to enabling salespeople to get to know their customers better, said John Miles, a vice president in Dell's Business Information Organization.
But Chatter isn't just about following people: In the business context, being able to follow customers, and keep track of critical support cases and other job-pertinent information is invaluable, Swensrud said.
Increasingly, social networking is happening from mobile devices, and with that in mind, Salesforce.com later this year will roll out a native Chatter 2 app for the iPhone, iPad and Blackberry.
"This is Facebook-style collaboration, but it's built for your business," said Swensrud.