Cloudforce London 2011 – Highlights (Day 1)


I’m just back from a great event and a great day out at Cloudforce London! Registering early paid off as I managed to get there on day 1 (the event was heavily oversubscribed leading to salesforce holding an additional day tomorrow, the 15th). Following the huge success of Dreamforce in the states this year it was great to see that interest and enthusiasm reaching us here in Europe.

For anyone who attended Cloudforce last year, your first thoughts were probably something like mine… “wow, there are a lot more people this year!” which was really encouraging to see. There were also more vendor booths and more salesforce staff on hand to help out than ever before. Still nothing on Dreamforce but nonetheless impressive!

This years keynote was heavily focused on one theme which was the “social enterprise” and making “businesses social” with a number of different speakers and great demo’s of Chatter enhancements as well as other new features throughout the product range. The fact is that many organisations, both big and small are way off the mark when it comes to interacting with their customers. Hopefully these new tools will allow them to engage more effectively and provide a better experience to their clients – if that happens then we will all be happier!

As there is way too much to cover from the days event, and much of it has been or will be covered in depth elsewhere I have chosen a few of my own highlights from the day as follows…

Data Residency Option (DRO)
This is a new feature that I can see many banks and governments being interested in (along with many others) as it allows for sensitive client data to be stored locally rather than out in a data centre. Fields are configured through the common salesforce setup area familiar already to most admins, and the great thing about this tool is that it allows customers to choose which data to store locally and which they are happy to store in “The Cloud”… it is not an all or nothing approach.

The one downside to this solution is that it does require the installation of software at the client site which clearly goes against the “No Software” ethos of salesforce – that said it would be a one-off server installation rather than anything an end-user would be required to perform so is unlikely to be an issue for most businesses.

The feature is the result of the aquisition of a company called Navajo Systems which should really add value. There are still many businesses out there that have been unable/chosen not to use salesforce due to security concerns, compliance and/or general paranoia however the DRO option now gives them one less reason to go without.

Marc Benioff Interviews Michael Dell
In the afternoon I went back into the auditorium along with most other atendees to join Marc and Michael Dell having an open discussion on the tech industry (past, present and future) along with more general topics including politics. The informal tone of the conversation was great and it was fascinating to see these guys sitting in London having a chat! All they were missing were the cigars and brandy.

In closing Michael Dell refers to politicians in Washington DC “Their not talking about the five year plan their talking about the five minute plan”.

Dave Carroll gave a demo of the new Siteforce product during one of the deveoper sessions, providing a quick overview of the product. Siteforce provides a very slick UI for building both static and data driven web pages using “clicks not code”. There is no HTML or Visualforce coding required or knowledge of CSS etc.. the Siteforce product does all that stuff behind the scenes so you don’t have to. In addition to page design, Siteforce also provides CMS functionality allowing users throughout the business to publish/edit content as required.

Siteforce is also unique in that the sites/pages published through the system are not subjected to the same scheduled maintainence as regular salesforce sites would be, although I cannot quote actual availability figures I would imagine this to be as close to 100% as possible.

European Data Centre 2012
One thing that got missed altogether from the conference was a follow up on last years announcement that salesforce are bringing a data centre to Europe (which was planned for London). Like others I had hoped this would at least be mentioned if not formally announced during the event but it never got a mention. I’m happy to say, that through the power of social media (!!) Mr Benioff himself has confirmed on twitter that it will be going ahead as planned some time next year. Great news for the European salesforce community!

…more about Cloudforce London 2011
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