So Why Is Salesforce’s Cloud Platform Such a Big Deal?

Question by FireFish45: So why is Salesforce’s Cloud Platform such a big deal?
I’m not a hardcore architect, so I’m not clear on one thing thats been bothering me lately about Salesforce.

They’re making such a huge deal about this Cloud Computing Platform that they are behind.

Can someone please explain in plain English what the big deal is? What is the business gain of investing resources in this type of technology?

Salesforce explains the Cloud Platform here:

http://www.salesforce.com/platform/cloud-platform/

Please don’t repeat or copy / paste what they say. I’m looking for a clear & concise explanation on the technology as a whole.

Best answer:

Answer by mdigitale
Cloud Computing and Software as a Service (SaaS) have been buzz words for quite some time now.

I wouldn’t classify Salesforce’s Cloud Platform as being a “big deal” over other Cloud Platforms that are available. However, Salesforce is probably one of the best examples of a successful SaaS today.

The distribution and usage model for SaaS is quite different from what most people are familiar with today. Today, if you want an office software package, you go to the store (or download from Microsof’s store), Microsoft Office for $ 800. You install this on your computer and go on your merry way. You can use the program as many times as you want for as long as you want.

The SaaS approach would have you purchase a subscription — say $ 30/month. You pay your subscription to Microsoft and you get to use the software. If you don’t pay, you can’t login and you don’t get to use the software.

So why would would anyone want to do that? There are some advantages — first, Microsoft (or their authorized entity) is responsible for maintaining the system. You always have access to the latest and greatest software without having to buy a new version. You don’t have to worry about installing security patches, configuration issues, etc. All of the maintenance is managed by the service provider. The provider may also provide additional features like automatic backups, etc.

What are the cons of this model? Well, if you’re like me you hate recurring monthly bills. You’re fine with patching your own system and keeping things up to date by yourself. SaaS also creates a heavy dependence upon the Internet. If your Internet goes out, you’re SOL. You also have to trust your provider to keep your data secure. With Salesforce, they have access to anything you let their system manage. For many customers, this is everything from customer details, service contracts, support issues, etc., etc. You have to put a lot of trust into one company and their security measures.

Advantages for software vendors? They love it because its a lot harder for people to pirate a service. You can’t use the product without having a log-in and you can’t get a log-in without paying. And you have to login every time you want to use the service. It also generates another product to sell. They can also sell to customers who want to use the product for a limited time (cheap price) and not have to worry about them walking off with the goods.

I think SaaS has some potential for some markets, but I personally don’t care for it. The less I have to rely on a fragile infrastructure like the Internet, the better.

Know better? Leave your own answer in the comments!

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