This is Marc Benioff's time. As CEO of Salesforce, for the last decade, he has been the world's highest-profile pitchman for cloud computing -- starting years before Gartner popularized the "cloud computing" phrase.
In his keynote tomorrow at Dreamforce, the company's annual cloud event, rumor has it that Benioff will be making a major announcement (perhaps related to Chatter, Salesforce's Facebook-like social collaboration platform for the enterprise launched this year). Regardless, he has lots to crow about, including projections that Salesforce will soon be a $2 billion company, up from $1.2 billion in the previous year.
The segment of the cloud Salesforce leads, SaaS (software as a service), has grown from a tiny sliver of the enterprise software market just a few years ago to 10 percent in 2009, according to Gartner, which predicts that slice will expand to 16 percent by 2014. Even more dramatic is the firm's projection that 85 percent of all new software will be delivered as a service by 2010.
If that sounds far-fetched, consider Microsoft's cloud computing plans. Last March, Steve Ballmer made one of those "betting the company" proclamations about Microsoft's commitment to the cloud, saying that about 70 percent of Microsoft employees would be working on cloud initiatives, and in 2011 that proportion would rise to 90 percent. If you've followed the beta release of Microsoft's hybrid desktop-cloud successor to Office, dubbed Office 365, then you know the company is serious.