Editor’s note: What does the iPad have to do with cloud computing? Glad you asked. In this guest post Marc Benioff, chairman and CEO of salesforce.com, explains how liberating the iPad will really be.
The first piece of software I ever wrote was on the TRS-80 Model 1. It was called “How To Juggle”, and it had 4K of memory. It was my version of “Hello World”, what every programmer first writes on a new piece of hardware. CLOAD Magazine purchased it for $75, they distributed it to their subscribers on a cassette (there weren’t disks for the TRS-80 yet). It was 1979. I was 15 years old, and I was a software entrepreneur. I still am.
Just five years later, I was an intern at Apple writing some of the first native assembly language on the Mac and working in a building called Bandley 4 with a pirate flag on the roof. Guy Kawasaki hired me to help developers write software on the Mac without using its predecessor, the Lisa (something that had been required when the Mac launched). My first example of how to write for the MDS 68000 development system manifested itself in a video game called “Raid on Armonk.” It was an allusion to IBM’s headquarters. They were the anti-Mac and we clicked and destroyed them. (Turns out they eventually clicked on themselves.)
I’m sentimental this week, and thinking about the past, because I have seen the future. The future is not a Mac, or even a PC. Its father created a lot of the computers I’ve loved: Apple IIe, Mac, and iPhone. There have been others I have loved, even some PCs and yes, my Blackberry, but none of that matters anymore. Looking ahead, I am energized, a door is opening, and we are all going to walk through it. We’ll soon enter a new world of computing accelerated once again by the industry’s creator Steve Jobs, and amplified by someone conceived after the PC, Mark Zuckerberg.
The future of our industry now looks totally different than the past. It looks like a sheet of paper, and it’s called the iPad. It’s not about typing or clicking; it’s about touching. It’s not about text, or even animation, it’s about video. It’s not about a local disk, or even a desktop, it’s about the cloud. It’s not about pulling information; it’s about push. It’s not about repurposing old software, it’s about writing everything from scratch (because you want to take advantage of the awesome potential of the new computers and the new cloud—and because you have to reach this pinnacle). Finally, the industry is fun again.
Last week I gave presentations to more than 60 CIOs in various meetings throughout America’s heartland. My message to them: We are moving from Cloud 1 to Cloud 2, and the iPad is the accelerator. Many of them haven’t even made it to Cloud 1—some are still on mainframes. They are working on MVS/CICS, or Lotus Notes, and they have never heard of Cocoa, or even that there is now HTML 5. This is unacceptable. The next generation is here. The iPad that shows us what now is really possible—and that we all need to go faster. Unfortunately, some CIOs would rather retire than go faster.
Cloud 1 ————————————->Cloud 2
Location Unknown————————->Location Known
What’s most exciting is that this fundamental transformation—cloud + social + iPad—will inspire a new generation of wildly innovative new apps that will change entire industries. Take health. We have all been waiting for the health application that will revolutionize how we share and communicate with our doctors, and help us make better health care decisions. The apps we have seen as first generation EHR/PHR just have not cut it, and now with ObamaCare there is no killer app to accelerate through the new EHR reimbursement program. The shift ignited by the iPad will allow the proliferation of these new missing apps, and automate the industries and professionals left behind by the last generation of technology. Now, no industry will be left behind.
It was on TechCrunch in late February that I first suggested that the enterprise software industry has to move forward and posted an article, “The Facebook Imperative.” In 1999, I was obsessed with the question, “Why isn’t all enterprise software like Amazon.com? And in 2010, the question evolved: “Why isn’t all enterprise software like Facebook?” This week we will have the answer to that question in our hands with the iPad. It’s a more productive, easier, and fun way to work and live. The iPad shows us the old world is no longer good enough. We’ll need new software with a new UI.
Our industry has gone through many shifts, but ultimately, the big ones have always been about software, not hardware. Now, we are seeing a simultaneous software and hardware revolution. The key apps we use in productivity, collaboration, communication, entertainment, education, and even health, will all be rewritten to take advantage of the new capabilities. This will result in a new generation that looks more like Facebook on the iPad than Yahoo on the PC. Our industry is changing. We all need to step up to meet this change head-on or we will leave an incredible opportunity behind.
Cloud computing is very intriguing to me. I like the idea of not hosting everything on my personal computer and being able to access that data from anywhere, but I worry about leaving my data to the likes of others. Also, what about specialized software such as the Adobe Creative Suite products? They have to be on a local computer to run. There is currently no way to run such a program on the cloud, yet if I store all my files on the Cloud how will I be able to edit those documents without having a personal computer with the program and files housed locally? Perhaps, as in this post, the iPad will change all that. At the very least, the writer believes a new type of Cloud will emerge. I find this all very thought provoking. I hope you will too.