SAN FRANCISCO — Large enterprises that want to run the Salesforce.com cloud service on dedicated infrastructure now have the ability to do it on Hewlett-Packard Co. hardware. The two companies formed a partnership at the Dreamforce conference here on Tuesday. But many details about the new infrastructure option have yet to emerge.
The Salesforce Superpod is a dedicated instance running Salesforce’s multi-tenant cloud on servers from HP’s Converged Infrastructure division. The product is aimed at the world’s largest companies, and HP [NYSE: HPC] will also be the first Salesforce customer to run on the Superpod. Still hosted in Salesforce.com’s data centers, those opting to run their Salesforce instance on the dedicated hardware will need to pay an extra, yet to be determined, fee.
Salesforce will be working closely with HP on delivering its Web-based software, which includes CRM, marketing tools, social media analytics, development kits, and human resources apps among other business-focused solutions, says Parker Harris, the co-founder of Salesforce.com. It won’t change the way Salesforce behaves for customers.
“The HP SuperPod has the same capabilities as our own other infrastructure. From our customer’s perspective, it’s really no different,” he says.
For larger clients that hesitate to use public cloud services like Salesforce, the Superpod may appeal because the contained infrastructure isn’t shared with other tenants. In the financial industry and healthcare industry, it could help meet regulatory requirements while in other cases it could guarantee a higher level of performance.
Since Salesforce.com can’t run on-premises, having a public cloud option with dedicated infrastructure could be the next best thing, says Altaz Valanic, senior consulting analyst at Info-Tech Research Group.
“There are limits to a public cloud offering,” says. “For some very big clients, having a public cloud with a controlled infrastructure is emerging as an option.”
But many questions are yet to be answered about the Superpod. Aside from what it will cost, there’s questions about interoperability with third-party apps in the Salesforce AppExchange and how Salesforce Superpod users will connect with partners using the public cloud.
“Between vendors that are in the cloud, we don’t see interop. You can’t take something from the Amazon cloud and bring it into Google,” Valani says. “So can you port between a Salesforce Superpod and the public cloud?”
Also yet to be seen is what control customers will have over their Salesforce.com [NYSE: CRM] implementation, or how that will be updated.
The model is closest to the hybrid-cloud model offered by other vendors where some aspects of the software can be run on-premises, or in a private cloud owned by the customer, Valani says.