Salesforce's Benioff Tells DreamForce Crowd 'Beware Of False Cloud'

Salesforce CEO and Chairman Marc Benioff stalked the DreamForce 2010 keynote stage and the aisles Tuesday like a preacher with a strong warning for cloud nation: "Beware of the false cloud."

Benioff's DreamForce cloud evangelism and his venom were targeted directly at Oracle and CEO Larry Ellison, as the two top executives continue their tit-for-tat about who is cloud and who isn't.

During his Oracle OpenWorld keynote, Ellison said Salesforce was not cloud computing. Instead, he dismissed Salesforce as "really only one or two applications that run on the Internet," and said the cloud development platform is for "doing little add-ons or little interfaces to Salesforce's applications."

Benioff begs to differ.

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With an image of Oracle's Exalogic Elastic Cloud Server, Ellison's "big honkin' cloud" or a private cloud-in-a-box offering, looming behind him, Benioff called for the death of the false cloud.

Not coincidentally, Benioff's DreamForce plea to kill the false cloud came at the same Moscone Center where Ellison disparaged Salesforce's cloud positioning in September.

Benioff told the DreamForce San Francisco faithful -- nearly 15,000 listening live and roughly 30,000 registered -- that the cloud is fast, it's real-time and it's inexpensive. To illustrate that, Benioff said all of Salesforce's nearly 90,000 customers are run on a mere 1,500 Dell PCs.

And the cloud doesn't and shouldn't require additional hardware and software, Benioff said.

"Why are we buying more boxes? Why do we need more software for cloud computing?" he asked, later adding "The cloud is not a box. It just isn't. There are no apps marketplaces if your cloud is a box."

Benioff mocked the line of servers Oracle had on-stage during OpenWorld, all in Oracle-red and running the plethora of applications Oracle has acquired over the year. "It was our whole industry lined up as a series of red cubes," Benioff said. "That was not the cloud."

To prove what a true cloud is and what it is not, Benioff suggested a "cloud computing test." To pass, a true cloud must have zero hardware and software costs, update automatically, be scalable, be democratic and have access apps marketplaces. He added that a true cloud must also curb energy consumption.

"The false cloud is not efficient, is not democratic, is not economical and is not environmental," he said, adding that a proprietary mainframe is not a cloud.

Another slap at Oracle was Benioff's and Salesforce's launch of Salesforce offering at DreamForce. The cloud-based database service lets developers build applications for use with any programming language, platform or device. worms into Oracle's bread and butter data base territory. "Databases need to move into the cloud from the mainframe to the client," he said.

Next: DreamForce Gets A Glimpse At Cloud 2

Deep digs at Oracle aside, Benioff stumped for a new era of cloud, dubbed Cloud 2. Where Cloud 1 was a low-cost, easy-to-use, on-demand infrastructure; Cloud 2 throws mobility and social networking into the mix. The sweeping successes of social networking behemoths Twitter and Facebook and the massive push to mobility catalyzed by smartphones, Apple iPads and mobile Web browsers, the cloud is about collaboration and access from wherever and whenever.

"Collaboration is happening in the cloud," he said.

Benioff pointed to a recent TV interview with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who changed how people communicate. He said the number of social media users have now eclipsed e-mail users, and used that stat to take a jab at IBM's aging Lotus Notes collaboration software, saying that Lutus Notes "was conceived before Mark Zuckerberg" and said it's a surprise companies are continuing to use a platform that old.

"We're going to take it to a whole new level. We're going to take it to a whole new place," Benioff said, adding, "We know the old status-quo players want to hold on as long as they can." To further prove his point that social media and networking is now powering business, Benioff invited Symantec CEO Enrique Salem to the keynote stage. Salem said tools like Salesforce Chatter, its social networking, communication and collaboration application, and other social media offerings will put users ahead of the pack and drive productivity increases. "It's a race," Salem said, and that race is fueled by the consumerization of the cloud that is giving users access to information wherever they are.

In that vein, Benioff highlighted some new Salesforce Chatter offerings, including Chatter Free, which makes a scaled down version of Chatter free to paying users; Chatter mobile; and, a free online Chatter service that will launch in February 2011. Those will be available along with Chatter Plus, a $15 per user per month full-scale Chatter offering for customers using Professional Edition, Enterprise Edition or Unlimited Edition.

Benioff said Salesforce now offers several clouds for different types of users: Sales Cloud 2, Service Cloud 2, the Chatter Collaboration Cloud, the Jigsaw Data Cloud, the Platform Cloud and And more clouds are coming.

And the cloud, Benioff said, isn't just for the largest enterprises. What sets cloud computing apart and makes it a significant transition is that it moves up and down market seamlessly in the SMB, midsized company and massive enterprises. It's democratic, Benioff said.

"The cloud services companies of all sizes," he said. "The cloud is for everyone. The cloud is a democracy."

Rick Whiting contributed to this article.