Salesforce.com and SaaS Hardware Efficiency

According to Marc Benioff, Salesforce.com CEO (in an interview on CNBC), the Salesforce’s cloud consists of 2,500 servers, serving 100,000 customers. A quick math reveals that this is an average of 0.025 servers per customer, or one server for every 40 customers.

Marc Benioff argues that in a traditional on-premises software model, customers would need one server per customer, or 100,000 servers overall. While Marc Benioff knowingly “oversimplifies” the truth (did anyone say virtualization?), the math is not totally off.

Indeed, it’s not unlikely that a Salesforce.com “server” is not the same as a (perhaps some ancient Windows) server at an SMB site. And, on-premises software customers also share servers across applications (even before virtualization became so ubiquitous). Yet, there’s something compelling about the figures, and there there’s certainly something to be said about the cost efficiencies of SaaS, even if, as in this case, from a hardware allocation perspective alone.

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