At first glance, Salesforce.com and Rimini Street are two high-tech companies that seem like they don't have much in common. One sells and hosts software in the cloud; the other services and supports aging enterprise software.
But during my meetings on Monday with them at Oracle OpenWorld in San Francisco, it became clear that they actually do have a couple of important things in common-besides the fact that both are treading on the enemy's turf. (Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff's heavily attended presentation on Tuesday was just outside the Moscone Center's grounds.)
First off, both companies' business models represent what the future of enterprise software will likely resemble: An established alternative to the constraints and costs of traditional on-premise software that we have come to know.
Salesforce.com's products are moving beyond its well-known SaaS CRM application. The Force.com AppExchange and Service Cloud are two revolutionary services that are trying to change the rules of the software development and delivery game.
In a Starbucks across the street from the Moscone Center, Ariel Kelman, Salesforce.com's VP of platform product marketing, talked about new products as well as the differences between on-premise software and Salesforce.com's cloud vision.
As to the differences between the two software delivery models and how Salesforce.com is judged by its customers, Kelman says that it's simple: "We are not profitable as a company unless our customers renew [their subscriptions]. We're not focused on a one-time upfront sale. How we market and sell is this: We don't sell vision, we sell customer success."
One interesting customer success story is Vetrazzo, a company that uses recycled glass to manufacture countertops. It was clear that Vetrazzo didn't want anything to do with traditional ERP once they saw the expected costs. So company executives built a prototype with Force.com, liked what it saw and is using a web-based ERP system today. According to Salesforce.com, Vetrazzo built, customized and deployed an ERP system in seven months; ROI was achieved in eight months.
Kelman and Salesforce.com are busy getting the word out at OpenWorld. "The reality [of what we can offer customers] is ahead of the perception," he says. "People are surprised with just how deep [our customers] are relying on Salesforce.com for apps or a platform."