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Benioff Strikes Back at the 'Evil Empire'

By Richard Adhikari
Dec 8, 2010 1:40 PM PT

Salesforce Chairman and CEO Marc Benioff devoted much of his keynote speech at Dreamforce on Wednesday on lashing out at Microsoft.

Benioff Strikes Back at the 'Evil Empire'

"There are forces out there that want to stop us," Benioff told his audience at Dreamforce 2010 in San Francisco. "We're trying to transform our industry, and when you try to transform an industry, you have an old industry, and they try to do everything they can to stop us."

Benioff said Microsoft has "gone all-out, especially in the past year."

The rest of the speech touched on the new Force.com 2 and saw Benioff bringing up customers to provide testimonials about working with Salesforce.com.

Getting the Hate On

Benioff's tongue-lashing may have been at least in part a reaction to the latest taunt Redmond's directed at Salesforce.com. Microsoft has had a group of people on Segways plastered with an anti-Salesforce ads riding up and down the sidewalks outside the Moscone Center since Dreamforce 2010 kicked off earlier this week

The ad consisted of the photograph of a man who's purportedly a Microsoft customer with the slogan "I Didn't Get Forced," taken from a new Microsoft dynamics online ad campaign.

"When you see this customer everywhere all of a sudden, it's amazing," Benioff said, describing Microsoft as an evil empire. "Will you work with me to get the customer back?" He roused the cheering, clapping audience, brought on a man who looked very much like the subject of the Microsoft ad and put on a show that culminated in the "customer" returning to Salesforce.com.

Microsoft is trying to stop the sales cloud, Benioff charged, pointing out that Redmond had sued his company earlier this year. "We had to hire the guy who had beaten them before, David Boies, to win again," Benioff said. In fact, the two companies had sued each other, settling in August with Salesforce agreeing to compensate Microsoft for its patents.

Earlier this week, Microsoft released an open letter from Michael Parks, one of its corporate vice presidents, offering a rebate of up to US$200 to anyone who switches from Salesforce.com to Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, its own CRM cloud application.

"We don't want you to go back to the evil empire," Benioff said. "We don't want you to go back to software. We know what it's like. The constant upgrades and updates, never changing, waiting for new features," he added.

Empire, Maybe ... but Evil?

Microsoft General Manager Zane Adam evaded the issue when asked whether Redmond sees Oracle, SugarCRM and other players in the CRM field as competition. "SQL Azure is built for the cloud by design, combining the familiarity and power of SQL Server with the benefits of the only true PaaS solution on the market, the Windows Azure platform," Adam told CRM Buyer.

"We're continually enhancing this functionality. This week, we are releasing technology previews of new SQL Server synchronization and business intelligence capabilities in SQL Azure," Adam stated.

"Salesforce.com is the leader in this market, and the most different," Denis Pombriant, principal at Beagle Research, told CRM Buyer.

Microsoft's attack may backfire, he opined. "Microsoft can't attack others without hurting itself," he said.

"Salesforce.com has shown it's in many businesses," Pombriant added. "Microsoft can't slow it down on all fronts, and Salesforce's success will have an additive effect. Success breeds success."

Getting to Know Heroku

Earlier today, Salesforce.com announced it will buy Heroku, which offers a Ruby on Rails Platform as a Service (PaaS). Benioff said Salesforce had made the purchase to open up its platform.

"Ruby is the language of Cloud 2," Benioff said. "Developers love Ruby. It's a huge advancement. The speed you can get, the agility."

Heroku is "how next-generation developers think about how to design and build and run applications," Benioff told his audience. "They've come out with how to do instant deployment and they really get how to build a rock-solid platform."

Heroku has almost 106,000 Ruby applications, and Salesforce.com is "looking forward to building as many Heroku applications as possible," Benioff said.

The Salesforce-BMC Remedy for IT

Benioff also announced RemedyForce, a new strategic cloud offering put forth jointly by Salesforce.com and BMC Software. This will "provide businesses a simple, fast path to transform how they think about IT service management and provide tangible results such as streamlined IT support processes at reduced costs," Benioff stated.

Remedy is the industry leader in IT service management, Bob Beauchamp, BMC's CEO, told the audience. "IT service management is conservatively a $15 billion market, but the issue is, large enterprises understand it, they get it, they have got to have it, but it's complex to implement and get full value from."

The joint offering from BMC and Salesforce.com offers IT service management "at a low price point with Chatter capability and brings it down to customers who couldn't adopt a full Remedy solution in the past," Beauchamp said. RemedyForce offers ITIL on the Salesforce.com platform, he pointed out.

ITIL, the Information Technology Infrastructure Library, is a set of concepts and practices for information technology service management, development and operations. It describes in detail various important IT practices and provides comprehensive checklists, tasks and procedures that can be customized.

RemedyForce has mobility built in so users can get it on their iPads and iPhones, Beauchamp pointed out.

"Rather than formally engaging with a traditional IT services management provider, companies using RemedyForce can flexibly tap into various management services and knowledge when and as required," Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT, told CRM Buyer.

However, there's quite a bit of competition in the IT services market. "IBM has a fairly sizable number of service solutions aimed at the mid-market," King pointed out. "CA is aggressively growing out its cloud-based solutions so this would be a possible opportunity for them. I expect there will be similar offerings from the competition in short order."


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