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Q&A: Marc Benioff, Salesforce.com

An audience with one of the biggest cloud evangelists in the industry today, Marc Benioff, chairman and chief executive of Salesforce.com.

This week marks Salesforce.com's Dreamforce conference in San Francisco. IT PRO was part of a select crowd invited to a Q&A session with the company's chairman and chief executive Marc Benioff. Here's what he had to say.

Can we get a serious answer about the concerns for cloud such as security, how is holding cloud computing companies back and what you are doing to persuade people it is the right model to go with?

We are on a technology adoption curve. You have to follow that curve. You have early adopters and laggers and the ones in the middle [but] we are moving up. The cloud computing metaphor is the future. If it isn't then I guess Google, Amazon and eBay are in a lot of trouble.

In regards to security, key to that is transparency. We have a trust site that you can see every issue. We let them [customers] look at our code [and] we get them into the most intimate aspects of the company. In almost all our cases our customer security is far below where we are. It is really important to us and we are doing a lot of the right things.

There is no finish line when we talk about security but if you chose to plug yourself into the internet... [people] are going to be looking in your file servers or trying to and if you don't have vast security teams working on this then you need to work with vendors. The largest companies have those teams but small ones don't. That's where we become their surrogate CIO.

No-one is exempt from security.

Why has renewal stabilised and shipments improved in your recent results?

There are eight key areas that we track and most of them were up and that resulted with bookings being above where they were a year ago. It was extremely exciting for us as we thought they would be flat or slightly down.

New licence sales are down for most software companies this year. We did not suffer that carnage. We did see that in the first two quarters but for this quarter we saw flat or slightly up and we think this will continue through to the end of this year.

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