Gary Allison's Leadership Blog

December 2010

Cloud Computing and Tech News08 Dec 2010 10:47 am

Bernard 9:20 Marc Benioff has just taken the stage – quite a showman he is. Nice video overview of day 1. Benioff now talking about Microsoft as the evil empire – says they are trying to stop chatter, the sales cloud, and his new socks. Talking now about the Microsoft lawsuit – and Micosoft “protest” outside yesterday. (MS had seqway drivers out front with “Don get Forced” slogans.)

Benioff asks the crowd to help him get this customer back and ask Bernard to come on out…  Its the guy in the MS advertisements – on the trucks and seqways.  “Bernard I’m so sorry…. we want to apologize to you”  “We don’t want you to go back to software, the constant upgrades, waiting for new features…”  Crowd applauds and Bernard says he will come back.  Classic Benioff.

9:38 Benioff now talking about his donation of $100M for a children’s hospital at UCSF. Describing all the investment in a new campus at Mission Bay.  Today is UCSF day at Dreamforce. Working to raise $1.5B for the new hospital. Still waiting for the announcements.

9:52 here we go with the meat of the keynote – “your platform is too proprietary” Benioff wants to open the platform further. Adding Ruby on Rails support. “Ruby is the true language of cloud 2” (talking about speed and agility of using the language). Salesforce buying Heroku!  Wow.

Heroku will be salesforce’s seventh cloud.  Will keep Heroku as an independent team. Heroku founded in 2007 to enable fast deployment/updgrade/delivery of Ruby apps. Fancy d- emo, but no details on how this will integrate with yet.

Eighth cloud announcement: BMC Software – CEO Bob Beauchamp on stage now. Announcing Remdyforce now available on, IT configuration management.

Platform team announcements – “ 2” -going to build a killer product for each market:

appforce – departmental and collaborative applications. looks like a marketing repackaging of what already provides. don’t see anything new here.  Improvements to sharing – new sharing model to be delivered in the Spring. Configurable Visualforce pages, Reduce governor limits by 70% in Spring.

siteforce – integrated cms, point and click editor, prebuilt components, social and mobile built in, 24×7 availability. Killer UI on the new CMS for content creation and publishing.

vmforce – accenture on stage talking about vmforce. Accenture is investing in vmforce – I don’t see anything really new here and the whole thing feels like a little bit of a false start.  With the new acquisition of Heroku, I would be dubious of a large investment in vmforce.

isvforce – packaged apps on the appexchange – more marketecture.  Didn’t see anything new here.

Now have CEO and CIOs on stage from Blackboard, Belkin, Avon, Kelly Services, and Deloitte talking about how the platform has helped them.

that’s a wrap.

Cloud Computing and Tech News07 Dec 2010 11:17 am

Marc Benioff speaking now – 14,000 in attendance at the keynote, 30K registered for conference.  Emphasizing platform and database in the cloud.  Waiting to see where he is going with this, what new announcements he has in his pocket…

Salesforce serves “100,000 customers, running of 1,500 Dell PCs” Marc says. That’s a gross over simplification.  His point is that cloud computing is green because of more efficient use of resources 90% more efficient than traditional hosting.

Talking about salesforce foundation now – asked all non-profits attending to stand up and be recognized – applause.

Broad change in internet usage.  Social networking users surpassed email users last year.  Significant growth in usage via smartphones. Cloud 2 is the shift from easy fast and low cost (Cloud 1) to social and mobile (Cloud 2). Interesting that Marc positions Amazon, Google, and eBay as Cloud 1.

If half a billion people are on facebook, why aren’t we building software that looks like facebook?  Why isn’t enterprise software like facebook?  Focus on 6 clouds: chatter, jigsaw data could,,, along with sales cloud2, service cloud 2.

Major changes in will be annouced tomorow, and appforce to build apps, and site force for sites.

Demoing jigsaw – clean and update your contacts from jigsaw database, can also search for contacts at a opportunity.

CEO of Symantec on stage now. Arguing chatter is more efficient than email, claiming productivity going up. I privately wonder how this can be measured.  Is it just more information overload and more surface level communication without depth? I do get that it is useful to communicate very brief bits of info quickly.

“How do I get my whole company on chatter?” New product announcement – ChatterFree.  Whole company can be on chatter.  Great strategy – obviously trying to be the facebook of business. Admins have to enable it in the organization. Employees can be provisioned automatically or can be invited to join.  Includes chatter on mobile device.  Also, coming by end of year – free for everyone, generally available public site.

Demo of service cloud 2 – screen pop integrated with telephone system, integrated with knowledge base and a call script. Also demoed the availability of the KB via google search. Agent to web visitor chat is included in service cloud 2.  Demoed twitter integration showing how service cloud can monitor tweets and create cases, including photos and location information, and send answer via tweet. huge announcements coming tomorrow – vision of leading platform for cloud 2.0 applications – faster cloud 2 apps, including java. 185K apps today.  Big emphasis on Open – make it open. announcement: claim to have the most scalable cloud database – 25B db xactions through Q311, 200B DB records, 12B custom tables, response times falling to around 275ms.  When they released chatter,  they extended the DB model to include social data model (follow any entity) and recently published a mobile / REST APIs.

Announcing today – “first enterprise database for cloud 2” open to any language / platform.  Full relational db, full text search index, user mgmt, row level security, triggers and stored procs, authentication, APIs.  Elastic, auto-upgrade, auto-backup, auto-disaster recovery. Trusted and secure, SAS 70 Type II certified. demo: view of db instances after login. Create an db, graphical schema editor in nice UI, showing console running a select to show the db is online.  Showing VMForce java code connecting to demoing facebook app querying jobs database and uploading a resume to a open position. facebook app is a php app running on EC2. Demoing android app now pulling job data from Finally, showing recruiting app running on ipad.  Sharing and security of restricts visibility of job applications to relevant departments. Showing collaboration in interview process attached to job application using chatter like social sharing. will be available next year. first 100K records are free. $10/month per 100K records. Benioff promises even more announcements tomorrow. Will I Am and Stevie Wonder tonight.  Gnereal Powell tomorrow?  Wow.

Cloud Computing and Tech News07 Dec 2010 10:52 am

Here waiting for keynote to start…. It is at least double the conference of 2008. I estimate this room can hold 10,000 people. Will be interesting to hear what Benioff announces today.

Tech News05 Dec 2010 11:21 am

I am fascinated by this story released late in November describing a computer work aimed at altering the code in industrial control systems, specifically it seems, the uranium centrifuges running Siemens control software.  The theory continues that the worm was targeted even more specifically to  damage the centrifuges at Natanz, the Iranian enrichment facility.

Another good analysis of this story can be found on this security blog by Bruce Schneier (aka the man on cryptography).  Bruce provides a link to Symantec’s detailed evaluation of the worm.

As you read about this worm, you can’t help but to be impressed with the complexity and sophistication of the software and people behind it.  This was definitely not a one man job – this required the effort of a small team of people with very specific skills – PC vulnerabilities, network communications, coding for industrial programmable logic controllers, and sophisticated story boarding of the entire worm lifecycle. It required all of this, plus very specific knowledge of the centrifuges being targeted along with operational knowledge of how the facilities function.  to top it all off, the worm has sophisticated update and reporting capabilities as well as being able to hide itself from detection.  Really amazing to put this all together in one tidy nuclear-program disabling package.

Agile Software and Effective Software Projects and Leadership and Teams02 Dec 2010 01:28 pm

Smell the Agile Roses

On my day off today, I find myself contemplating how little time there is to smell the roses (and write blog posts).  We have so tuned our processes that really there is no downtime.  It turns out that when you add Agile development processes to delivering software as a service (SaaS), what you achieve is a relentless pace of innovation.  That’s good right?

Well, it does have a few consequences that are important to manage.  First is that there is never time to go back and finish that unit test, test automation, or UI tweak you really wanted to do last sprint.  You need to be complete and ready to move on to the next project.  We’ve been working on ways to improve here which will be part of a follow up post (really it will).

This post is about another consequence – we deliver innovation so quickly while also working on the way we deliver that it is easy to lose sight of how far we come.  As I overheard on a flight yesterday, “the days are long and the years are short”.  So true.

To combat this in my team, we try to be as rigorous about our celebrations as we are about our delivery.  We deliver somewhere around 10 times a year (even more with minor updates) and this will only grow as our product line continues to expand.  Still there are certain deliveries that stand out as larger accomplishments and 3 times a year as a team we will take a day and celebrate.

Often these celebrations include a team engineering event – we’ve built tinker toy towers, water balloon launchers, and aqueducts.  We’ve played kickball, laser tag, and cruised the lake on a party barge.  Once a year in Dec/Jan, we will take stock and as a team, share what we feel are our largest accomplishments as we also layout how we want to raise the bar for the next year.

It can be exhausting at times to be a part of the relentless pace of Agile delivery, and at those times when the release is rolled out to clients, maybe the last thing you want to do is plan a celebration. But every time we have one of these events, I am reminded what great people we have on our team and how much they deserve (and need) these times together.