This week during its never-disappointing Dreamforce event, Salesforce.com announced a partnership with HP to deliver a new service named Salesforce Superpod. According to the announcement, Salesforce Superpod is a “dedicated instance” of Salesforce.com hosted on HP infrastructure. During the November 19th Dreamforce keynote, HP CEO Meg Whitman explained how this new service would be welcome news to businesses, such as those in the healthcare industry, who might otherwise be unable to adopt a public cloud service. Regardless of whether this specific service is of interest to you, I believe there is another, more significant story to be told that is implicit in this announcement.
Through the delivery of this service Salesforce is implicitly acknowledging the benefit of, and need for, private clouds. Think about it. Sure, the solution they are offering is multi-tenant. But, so are many private clouds. Sure, it’s not hosted on-premise. But, there are lots of private clouds that are hosted by cloud providers who are essentially spinning up a version of their multi-tenant cloud for the use of a single customer.
One last try… If this new service is multi-tenant, couldn’t a group of organizations with similar objectives and/or constraints (e.g. security requirements, compliance regulations) get together within a single Superpod? Well, licensing notwithstanding, let’s assume for the sake of this discussion that would be possible. That sounds a bit like a community cloud (I like those too), though whether or not you believe it meets the strict definition of a community cloud, it’s still not public. And there are certainly other services like that.
Now I have never been one to engage in the “one true cloud” arguments of the past, and I’m not about to start now. (Thankfully that not-very-useful debate has died down.) I believe that, no matter what we call these things, maintaining focus on the value they deliver to customers and businesses is what’s really important. And regardless of whether you believe private clouds are a final destination, or even whether they will be around for very long, we should not ignore the value they deliver today.
Even if they are used only as transition tools, private clouds enable businesses to capture much of the value made possible via cloud economics very rapidly; while businesses are still sorting out things like multi-tenant security and modern application architectures. And there are some things (e.g.: top secret national security related information) that are simply unlikely to ever rest in public clouds, at least not without some significant technology advances.
Until that happens, we live in a hybrid world. I believe this announcement is evidence that Salesforce.com, an exciting, top-notch, customer-focused company that can certainly lay claim to the title “Cloud Pioneer”, believes that too. So come join us at Camp Hybrid. The water’s great!