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On the Mark: Will 'platform as a service' pit Google against Salesforce.com?


 

It's an understatement to say that Salesforce.com Inc. has changed the nature of enterprise software forever. The San Francisco-based company's software-as-a-service model upended the notion that business software needs to run on premises and under the direct management of IT. Today, 1 million users at more than 38,000 companies work with Salesforce.com's applications. And, reports Chief Marketing Officer Clarence So, the company is on track to do $1 billion in revenue in its current fiscal year. But that might be just the tip of a potential iceberg of change in the way IT is done.

Clarence So

 

The next "big bet," says So, is to position Salesforce.-com as a "platform as a service" company -- much as Google Inc. is trying to do with its Google Apps. As savvy CIOs see that managing IT infrastructure is seldom core to a business, they no longer want to be seen as "chief infrastructure officers," So argues, but rather as "chief innovation officers," plotting new business processes that leverage external SaaS infrastructures. Both Salesforce.com and Google want to be the external "infrastructure platform" CIOs adopt. Although Google has the bigger brand and bank account, Salesforce.com might be the better bet, says So. Its AppExchange already offers a breadth of applications -- everything from groupware to project management. Plus, it already has users who view Salesforce.com as a platform and not as a single-app SaaS provider. For example, So says that Japan's postal service recently signed a 30,000-seat deal, not for sales force automation software, but merely for the right to customize the service in the SaaS cloud for its own purposes. So contends that it's similar to what Microsoft Corp. was able to do in the mid-1980s: convince IT that Windows was solid enough to build applications and business processes on. And that worked out well.

 

Hypermesh Speeds Streaming Media

If you enjoy streaming media from video sites like YouTube, Scott Ryan has a real treat for you: the "hypermesh." Ryan is the CEO of Atlanta-based start-up Asankya Inc., which will roll out its "packet-level multipathing" (PLMP) technology in 10 U.S. urban areas in Q2. He contends that "progressive download" sites such as YouTube can't handle live media events or high-definition streams because the content flows through a single path via a local caching server to your PC. Ryan claims that PLMP can send the same data stream over multiple paths to ensure that it gets the maximum content-delivery rate. PLMP depends on Asankya's giganode caching devices in ISP data centers, and on a softnode plug-in that you install on your Windows XP system. (Vista support arrives later this year, but the Mac OS X softnode won't ship until 2009.) The softnode, which Ryan hopes someday will be standard in PC operating systems, augments the giganode in the cloud and acts like a peer-to-peer agent, so that machines with the plug-in can pass along a data stream to the next-closest content requester. Ryan says all the nodes for a given streaming session are tracked in a central pathing table, which is updated in real time so service rates achieve the highest throughput. And PLMP is secure, he says, since the pathing table holds no file-level information about a PC, only its location on the content path. The technology, which stems from research at Georgia Tech, will beworth a serious look when it arrives.

Scott Ryan

 

More Buzz. Discover and discuss more industry action at the On the Mark blog: computerworld.com/blogs/hall

Source:  March 3, 2008 (Computerworld) , On the Mark: Will 'platform as a service' pit Google against Salesforce.com?, By Mark Hall
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