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Apr 22 2008   4:22PM GMT

Salesforce.com ‘tour de force’ faces down Microsoft mesh, CRM Online



Posted by: badarrow
Tags:
Application development
Barbara Darrow
Microsoft
Software as a service (SaaS)

This battle just keeps getting hotter.

Marc Benioff brought the traveling Salesforce.com “tour de force” road show to Boston today, complete with live customer and ISV testimonials.

Today was also the day Microsoft went live with CRM Online and is poised to take (at least some of) the wraps off its thus-far-very-vapory Mesh concept. (Does that make this Mesh Eve?)

Microsoft co-opted the mesh concept to connote the underpinnings of Web-connected people and devices. Amit Mital is slated to talk about Microsoft Mesh tomorrow at the Web 2.0 show and Microsoft is supposed to post related video and content tonight at midnight.

What really gets me in all this hoo haw, is speculation that Microsoft may not build its uber-web-computing platform on Windows. Umm, have any of those chatterers ever seen or used Windows? If so, that’s a big “duh.” Not even the great Ray Ozzie can, to borrow a once-favored Microsoft phrase, can put lipstick on that particular chicken.

No kidding, Microsoft has to come up with something new. And real

Benioff scooted out of the Boston event before he could be asked in person about these things. But he ain’t buying that Microsoft’s might means victory in SaaS. Asked by email to respond to the impending Meshiness (and also to Microsoft’s bundling of 5 GB of storage with basic CRM Online compared to 1 GB for Salesforce.com), here is his response:

“After a decade of using their monopoly to stop saas innovation through false prophecy and rhetoric; Microsoft has relented by delivering a service that is still too little too late without the platform as a service customers are demanding to succeed.

Microsoft’s answer to platform as a service is just more .net software in a world where cloud computing negates their monopolistic control of the Windows desktop.

Microsoft has let us all down through their lack of innovation; fortunately, the SaaS and PaaS movements will finally release us all from their old software models and outdated business practices.

We offer customer pricing of our services and storage for our customers through our global sales force and partner organization on a per agreement basis.”

Oh, and the inevitable, “aloha.”

So, Salesforce.com, which famously pioneered the Software-as-a-Service model is pushing hard to become a power in platforms. So is Google. So is Amazon. So is eBay. That sounds very much like Microsoft’s raison d’etre.

Microsoft meanwhile has to build credibility in “the cloud” with this mesh thing.

Can you say collision course?

This is gonna be good.

Barbara Darrow can be reached at bdarrow@techtarget.com.

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