Salesforce's Benioff Touts Microsoft, Cisco Partnerships As Path To Success In Internet Of Things


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Salesforce.com, now 16 years old, is asking for the keys. Not the keys to the family car, but to a greater role in the operations of its enterprise vendor partners.  

At Salesforce's Dreamforce conference Wednesday, CEO Marc Benioff talked about how his company is working with Microsoft and Cisco Systems to help customers gain insight from data that's being generated by devices, apps, sensors, websites, social media and other sources in the so-called Internet of Things.  

While Microsoft was rumored to have made a blockbuster $55 billion bid to acquire Salesforce earlier this year, that hasn't materialized. Now, Microsoft has signed on as an early customer for Salesforce IoT Cloud, a new service slated for launch next year that's designed to help customers get value from these massive streams of data.

Benioff said Microsoft is using Salesforce's IoT Cloud in conjunction with Azure Event Hubs, a cloud big data service that processes data streams from websites, apps and devices, to keep track of Office 365 event data.

[Related: Salesforce Offers Sneak Peek At Its Internet-Of-Things Service, Which Is Coming Next Year]

Salesforce takes the Office 365 data, applies its own rules engine to determine how it should be used, and then connects it to the Salesforce Marketing Cloud, said Salesforce co-founder Parker Harris, who joined Benioff on stage during the keynote.

Salesforce IoT Cloud can capture data from billions of Office 365 usage events that happen every day, and use it to address business opportunities, Harris said. For example, if a user signs up for Office 365 and hasn't downloaded Salesforce apps, Salesforce's Marketing Cloud can send an email reminder, he said.

Meanwhile, Cisco is also using Salesforce's IoT Cloud to monitor event data generated by its networking hardware. Benioff, who was joined on stage by Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins, explained how the combination of the two can help detect potential hardware problems before they happen.

While Cisco is already heavily focused on the Internet of Things, Robbins said Salesforce's IoT Cloud can help gain additional insights about its customers' environments.

"We can feed analytics in, and correlate it, and dynamically change the infrastructure based on what our customers are doing," Robbins said in the keynote.

Michael Porter, principal of the portal and social practice at Perficient, a St. Louis-based Salesforce partner, told CRN he thinks the partnerships with Microsoft and Cisco make sense because they're focused on areas in which each vendor's IoT plans don't overlap.

"Microsoft uses Salesforce Marketing Cloud because they don’t have a corresponding project. It makes sense for them to use IoT Cloud as well, because it's closely integrated with Marketing Cloud," Porter said.

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