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Summary:

The CRM leader isn’t saying boo, but if it does adopt OpenStack it could help the open-source cloud gain enterprise credibility, which it still sorely needs.

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You gotta love it when one vendor helpfully announces another vendor’s plans. That’s what apparently happened Monday when Rackspace chairman and co-founder Graham Weston was quoted in the Wall Street Journal’s CIO blog (registration required) saying that Salesforce.com would start running OpenStack’s open-source cloud technology.

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That is certainly very interesting if true, because Salesforce.com, the leader in software-as-a-service-based CRM, is typically considered something of a black box, with tight reliance on Oracle databases and middleware (although I believe they all run on Linux.) So intimations that it might consider use of the Postgres database last year caused a firestorm. As one cloud pundit’s headline characterized it: Open meet proprietary.

I say “if true” because Salesforce.com issued the usual “we don’t comment on rumors” line to the Journal. I’ve pinged both Salesforce.com and Rackspace for comment.  which is as yet not forthcoming. Update: A Rackspace spokeswoman referred me to Salesforce.com for comment; a Salesforce.com spokeswoman reiterated that the company does not comment on rumor.

For the record, Salesforce.com is not listed among corporate sponsors of OpenStack, but that’s not surprising. Actually, that list of companies at least pledging allegiance to OpenStack is so comprehensive now — Oracle just joined as a corporate sponsor a week or so ago — that it’s more notable for who’s not on the list than for who is. Amazon Web Services and Microsoft are about the only no-shows there.

So why would Weston sound off on any Salesforce.com move? Well, Rackspace is one of OpenStack’s parents and remains a big proponent. It’s in its best interest if OpenStack is seen as enterprise-class cloud infrastructure, and Salesforce.com is all about enterprise applications.

This whole kerfuffle echoes the story last year when Mirantis, another OpenStack proponent, announced that PayPal was dumping VMware (or parts of VMware) for OpenStack. The truth turned out to be a bit more nuanced than that. So, when anyone says any large-ish company is completely dumping one technology for another, take a huge spoonful of salt. Very few enterprises make such wholesale changes all at once.

So, when it comes to Salesforce.com’s technology platform changes, we really don’t know much, but I bet there’s a germ of truth in the OpenStack tale.

Note: This story was updated at 9:47 a.m. PST with Salesforce.com reaction.

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  1. Chaitanya Mehandru Thursday, January 2, 2014

    This sounds encouraging. Does this mean Openstack talent will be in demand?

  2. This is a very ambiguous piece of news. By acquiring OpenStack, Salesforce is going to be put right up there, with Oracle – giants in cloud computing space. But it could have large negative ramifications as well, if not handled properly.
    Sandhya
    Agile CRM

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