It is a testament to the times that as a new burgeoning technology is hatched by an ”army of geeks” in a caffeine drenched frenzy, I can have a conversation at a party with a lawyer from a completely different field and find that he already has a rudimentary grasp of that same technology - Cloud Computing.
Even if I normalize for the natural demographic skew of my location (San Francisco), it is impressive to consider how quickly this phenomenon has progressed towards the mainstream. Clearly, the message has a lot to do with the rate of transmission.
“Software-as-a-Service“, or worse “SaaS”, didn’t catch the imagination as well as “Cloud” did. Which is ironic considering SaaS is actually what the consumer/user really interacts with. What was originally represented by “The Cloud” was a metaphor for all of the networking, server hardware, protocols, etc. that no user in their right mind would want to know even existed, never mind have to understand.
Even Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce.com, the original “Software-as-a-Service” company, writes in his letter to shareholders, “We have become the first enterprise Cloud Computing company to report more than $1 billion in revenue.” He may argue that this is in line with their Force.com strategy - providing their compute power in the form of a “Platform-as-a-Service” (here we go again) – Sales Cloud 2. But considering where the vast majority of those $1 billion came from, it more reflects the company’s savvy marketing team. If a Cloud Computing company were to be defined as any company that provides compute resources as a utility, then wouldn’t Amazon have been the first $1 billion Cloud Computing company the moment they turned on AWS? “SaaS” appears to have lost its luster and “Cloud Computing” is the “new black”.
The reality is, what you call something does matter. And every successful company out there knows this. To throw up your arms and quote Shakespeare is to miss the point, and likely doom your company/product to failure in the process.
To give something a name is to give it meaning. Even better – a name should imbue the audience with a passion, an image, something that goes far beyond its function. “Cloud Computing” does that, with very little effort….”SaaS” needed an education cycle, time, and resources, and the market really doesn’t have that kind of patience.
(If you’re curious, in 2006 SFDC was all about “CRM”, and press releases in 2008 described the company as “…the market and technology leader in Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS)”.)
This post was written by James Colgan on February 12, 2010