Before starting, it should be noted that there is no definition of cloud computing that everybody (or even most people) agrees on.  If you ask 20 different people what cloud computing is you will likely get 20 different answers.

I recently attended a number of sessions at the ASAE Tech show  that were fantastic.  There was one session, however,  that I felt offered mis-information on cloud computing (ironically the session was about cloud computing in the 21st century) and Salesforce.com.  

The presenter seemed very biased to private clouds (which I like to call ‘Application Hosting’ versus true cloud computing ) as that was the business he was in.   To me true Cloud Computing (Google, Salesforce.com, Database.com Etc) needs to at least have the following features:

  • Multitennancy – a single instance of the software runs on a server, serving multiple client organizations (tenants)
  • Near-infinite and instantaneous capacity and scalability
  • No hardware or software needed to operate except a browser. 
Marc Benioff , CEO of Salesforce.com refers to this as the ‘False Cloud

There is a good blog entry on Salesforce.com on Private Clouds, Flat Earths and Unicorns  that I think does a great job of putting this into its proper perspective.  When an organization selects a ‘Private Cloud’ it inherits all of the unproductive costs and prevents if from partaking in the massive economies that the cloud should be providing.  When asked to choose between between public and private clouds, it’s like asking a princess whether she’d rather ride a horse or a unicorn.  One is reality and the other fantasy.  Today the reality is that true cloud services are highly secure, flexible and are easy to integrate with.

The presenter also incorrectly stated that Salesforce.com is not really a development platform.  NimbleUser has implemented / developed numerous applications using Salesforce.com; everything from a systems to track hotel room usage to an AMS system.  There is an full blown App Store (www.appexchange.com) with hundred of applications.  We developed a Salesforce Top 40 app in 2009 so I am quite sure it is development platform.

Even non-profits need to beware of the false cloud(s).  Next time you attend a presentation keep a lookout for mis-information and correct it when you can.