Chorus of Praise Joins Benioff on the Cloud

SAN JOSE, Calif. — In a shaky economic climate widely expected to propel a faster shift to cost-cutting virtualization and cloud computing technologies, Marc Benioff is singing full-throated praises of the cloud.

“The most important thing happening today is that platforms are moving off premise and into the cloud,” said the feisty chairman and CEO of software on demand leader

He pointed to Microsoft’s (NASDAQ: MSFT) recent announcement of its Azure cloud computing initiative as one more piece of evidence in his arsenal., (NASDAQ: AMZN) Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) and IBM (NYSE: IBM) also play in this space, the (NYSE: CRM) chief said in his keynote speech today at SIIA On Demand, the Software Information Industry Association’s conference on software as a service.

But he’s not the only one whistling a happy tune about the cost-saving features of virtualization and cloud computing.

As Benioff was speaking at the San Jose Marriott Hotel, where the event’s taking place through Wednesday, CA (NYSE: CA) and VMware (NYSE: VMW) announced in an unrelated development that they will integrate their management tools to better manage virtual and physical environments on premise and in the cloud.

Benioff said his speech today was based on a presentation he made at Dreamforce 2008,’s annual user conference held in San Francisco earlier this month.

“Cloud computing offers democratization — traditionally, small, medium and large companies have different types of solutions but cloud computing can offer solutions to all of them,” he said.

That democratization will be helped right along by the joint virtualization management partnership announced by CA and VMware today. The two are integrating the CA Data Center Automation Manager, announced at CA World this week, and VMware’s Stage Manager, and CA will market the resulting product.

Ultimately, this integration will let users integrate multiple datacenters or federate internal datacenters with clouds offsite, in line with VMware’s vCloud Initiative, announced at the vendor’s annual user conference in Las Vegas in September.

For now, though, the integration will address more immediate problems. “We’ll tightly integrate the production environment with application development and testing so customers can compress the processes between the two,” Stephen Elliot, CA’s vice president of business unit strategy, told

Later, enterprises will be able to have one view of both their on-premise and cloud installations. “If you’re using Amazon’s EC2 for test and development, and you also have infrastructure on premise, you could move a virtual machine from testing and development on premise and shoot that off to the Amazon cloud and have full control over it from one console,” Elliot said. “As you pull the VM back into your infrastructure you can continue to maintain it on that one console.”

The alliance is part of VMware’s strategy of making management solutions built around its vCenter suite available for integration with partners’ end to end management tools and environments, Shekar Ayyar, the company’s vice president of infrastructure alliances, told

“We are both generically open for integration with our customers’ existing vendors like HP or IBM or BMC, and are doing more specialized one-on-one integrations like that with CA,” he added. For the latter, VMware will leverage its partners’ sales and distribution channels.

All the solutions will be striving to hit the right pitch with customers.

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