Salesforce.com welcomes cloud portability

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Salesforce.com welcomes cloud portability

Microsoft feud continues.

If its current legal spat with Microsoft is any indication, Salesforce.com's open, collaborative vision of "one big cloud: the Internet" is not for everybody.

The cloud computing provider boasts an ecosystem of more than 3,000 channel partners and business partners like Google and VMware.

Last month, Salesforce.com announced VMForce,  a hosted environment that allows Java developers to build and deploy enterprise applications in the cloud. Google and VMware this week announced a similar partnership to improve the portability of cloud data.

Salesforce.com's platform director Peter Coffee said portability was a boon -- rather than a threat -- to the company.

"I will get more customers by reducing fears of lock-in than by stopping existing customers from leaving," he told iTnews.

According to the company's regional executive VP Lindsey Armstrong, the company believed that new, competitive services in the cloud would only serve to strengthen the industry.

"It's not our goal to build that [cloud] economy ourselves," she said. "In the cloud, vendor collaboration takes the place of vendor lock in."

At the CloudForce 2 conference in Singapore this week, Armstrong described Salesforce.com's upcoming collaboration tool, Chatter, which was built on "familiar consumer concepts" to encourage uptake.

Much like Facebook, Chatter allowed users to manage their own profiles, share files and links, and track projects and discussions by "following" those pages.

Neither Armstrong nor Coffee were aware of any discussions with Facebook regarding the Chatter interface.

However, both told iTnews that the companies had an longstanding relationship that enabled Force.com developers to use Facebook APIs.

Coffee believed that "imitation is the fastest form of learning", referring to British research that found that copying others' strategies was more productive than investing in innovation.

"Don't neglect the 'social' part of the phrase 'social learning'," he wrote in a recent blog post.

"Do imitate the winning strategies that spent as much time as possible enacting known behaviours and earning payoff points," he said.

But competitors may take a sterner view of imitation.

In Seattle last week, Microsoft filed a lawsuit claiming that Salesforce.com had violated nine patents in some of the menu, toolbars and graphical interface of its CRM product.

While he could not comment specifically on the lawsuit, Salesforce.com's chairman, CEO and co-founder Marc Benioff said "patent trolls" were a bothersome part of today's technology industry.

"Every ten years, technology and IT dramatically changes. Here's the key - to catch the change," he said at CloudForce 2.

"Things die in our industry ... what I don't like about the industry is when companies try to own that [dying] paradigm and stop [technological] growth to bolster their cashflow," he told journalists at the event.

"Patent trolls are part of our industry today; that's how it is. It's not significant to our business in any way. I'm very disappointed in this from a former leader in our industry and we will resolve it as we have resolved similar issues in the past."

Coffee also said the lawsuit would not impact Salesforce.com's business in any way.

While he would not comment further on the lawsuit, Coffee took a dig at the software giant, saying its recently launched Azure "violates the promise of the cloud."

"The cloud is no longer saying we are just as good; the cloud is saying we can do everything you can but better and at less cost," he said.

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