Did Salesforce Just Announce Support for Client/Server Computing?

I was able to attend Dreamforce on Tuesday in SF this week and hear Marc Benioff’s keynote address – although I had to do it from an overflow room since the main room was packed beyond capacity. Tremendous showing especially considering the fact that we’re supposed to be in an economically depressed climate. 

I try to attend Dreamforce each year because a) Marc is entertaining, b) there is always something interesting that he announces and c) it’s usually pretty relevant to the companies and markets I invest in. This year, as expected, he announced several new offerings; one  that I thought was an especially shrewd move is  Free Chatter (good idea since SuccessFactors is gunning to own the enteprise collaboration market with its CubeTree  acquisition earlier this year. I think Lars Daalgard, CEO of SuccessFactors, is one of the few current high tech CEOs who can go toe to toe with Marc for showmanship!).

Another major new offering according to Marc, to be delivered in 2011, is Database.com. This is a new SaaS-based noSQL database offering that developers can use to create a variety of new applications. It supports a multitude of programming languages which is a departure from Salesforce’s more proprietary approach in the past. 

During his explanation of Database.com, it dawned on me that what I was hearing was Marc essentially endorsing and bringing to market a client/server computing offering – client/server 2.0, if you will. This is the very person who eschewed and spurned the client/server computing architecture in favor of “internet/web-based computing” a mere decade ago. 

Think about it. One of the fastest growing areas for application development is for mobile computing on top of Android, iOS, and, dare I say it, Windows Phone 7. Each of these applications are downloaded to a client device and communicate through an API/protocol to a backend server/filesystem. That, my friends, is by definition client/server computing.

Yes, it’s a different time/space and it’s a different architecture that helps obviate many of the issues associated with client/server 1.0. But, nevertheless, it is client/server computing. I found this to be extremely ironic. I wonder if anyone else was thinking the same thing?

The overall show was impressive and my portfolio companies are all very happy with the amount of customer interaction they had in the Expo. Just one  small complaint; Marc, in case you’re out there reading this — don’t you guys think you ought to retire the “No Software” positioning. It served its purposes in its day but I think everyone has figured out that Salesforce is all about software — and now, apparently, client/server computing.

  • I thought Database.com was a relational database offering much like Amazon RDS and not a NOSQL offering. I would not be surprised if it was PostgreSQL under the covers.