Dreamforce Marc Benioff, Salesforce.com's chief executive, today poured scorn on SAP for its temerity in planning on-demand business applications. At no time did he mention the company by name, but everyone recognised his target when he referred to software firms using dated architectures and hoodwinking customers.
He said vendors failing to adopt a multi-tenant architecture - as used by Salesforce along with other online services such as Google - are really trying to get customers to use their on-site and datacenter-based services.
Speaking ahead of SAP's long-awaited A1S service launch on Wednesday, Benioff told press and analysts at his company's Dreamforce conference in San Franciso: "Some software companies are going to be announcing a single tenancy architecture this week - what were they thinking? They spent three years writing it? They spent three years writing it?!"
"The eBays, Yahoo!s, and Googles have multi-tenant architectures. None of them use virtualization and federation. The only ones are on-premises companies that want to trick you into starting in their datacenter and then trick you [by] saying: 'You know... all this on-demand stuff is BS anyway.
"When you are building these ecosystems and exchanges, multi-tenancy is the way to go," he said.
Salesforce uses a multi-tenant model, where its 35,000 users share a single platform, accessing the same services such as data storage and security. Multi-tenant is, theoretically, simple to update and customize for the vendor, partners and customers.
Salesforce's new Apex programming language supports the multi-tenant model. This relies on metadata to build and customize applications and interfaces, and separates them from the underlying data. The company claims 23 major releases for its service in eight years with, on average, 100 new features per release.
Parker Harris, EVP of technology and a Salesforce.com co-founder, chipped in with: "Multi-tenant has given us the ability to dynamically tune all customers. We've written a multi-tenant query optimization engine infront of the Oracle database... Multi-tenant drove us to go 100 per cent on the metadata model. There's no short cuts in multi-tenant."
The alternative to multi-tenant in hosting is for a single-instance, or isolated-tenancy, model, where each customer can have their own application or server. This has been used in traditional application hosting.
SAP has kept a fairly tight-lip on what A1S will contain, but the service is expected to employ isolated-tenancy, which SAP is calling "mega tenancy."®