The question every Aussie should ask at Dreamforce

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The question every Aussie should ask at Dreamforce

[Blog post] Where is our data centre?

Early next week, several dozen Australians will descend on San Francisco to attend Salesforce.com’s 14th annual Dreamforce conference.

Salesforce’s Marc Benioff can afford all the ingredients to wow an audience - a big sets of speakers and screens, Hillary Clinton, Bruno Mars. He’ll talk big game on cloud and analytics, and about playing nice with enterprise IT (cue shaking hands for the camera with the Microsoft guy).

But the one question every Australian attendee should be asking this year won't be about the apps. Where is our data centre?

Salesforce.com has been the bane of every CIO attempting to exercise any degree of control over the information assets of the company. The vendor started the practice of selling everywhere in the organisation but the IT shop, which all too many competitors have also put into practice.

For regulated industries, that became a major heachache around four years ago, as they increasingly discovered instances of customer data being stored offshore.

To compensate, Benioff put time aside with The Australian newspaper to announce in mid-2011 that the company planned to build a local data centre and give regulated organisations fewer headaches when storing sensitive customer data with the SaaS provider.

That was over three years ago.

A few weeks ago, analyst Scott Stewart started asking questions about why we still haven’t seen one, and didn’t get a response.

So we took the matter up for him, and this was the reply:

“We are absolutely committed to building a datacentre in Australia,” a spokesman for the company said. “When we have more information on timing, we will let you know.”

This was much the same promise made in mid-2011. Customers that committed to the platform on that basis over the intervening years have good cause to be upset.

Salesforce has both the scale in Australia and the financial wherewithall to honour its commitment. Are Australian customers propping up Salesforce's investment in Singapore?

“Salesforce.com allows customers to choose which data centre they would like their data stored in,” was the reply.

Yes, they have a choice. Everywhere but Australia.

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Brett Winterford

One of Australia’s most experienced technology journalists, former iTnews Group Editor Brett Winterford has written about the business of technology for 15 years.

Awarded Business Journalist and Technology Journalist of the year at the 2004 ITjourno awards and Editor of the Year at the 2009 Publishers Australia 'Bell' awards, Winterford has extensive experience in both the business and technology press, writing for such publications as the Australian Financial Review and The Sydney Morning Herald.

As editor of iTnews Brett has led a team of award-winning journalists; delivered speeches at industry events; authored, commissioned and edited research papers, curated technology conferences [The iTnews Executive Summit and Australian Data Centre Strategy Summit and also shares the judging of the annual Benchmark Awards.

Brett's areas of specialty include enterprise software, cloud computing and IT services.

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