Cisco Systems is augmenting its aggressive cloud strategy with the addition of Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff to the board of directors.
The 47-year-old cloud pioneer, who founded Salesforce.com in 1999, was one of two new members announced by Cisco Aug. 2 to the now 14-member board. The other was Kristina Johnson, CEO of Enduring Hydro, a green energy company, and former under secretary of energy at the U.S. Department of Energy.
The appointments underscore Cisco's cloud computing efforts. Company executives have been vocal about the idea of the network being the foundation for cloud computing, and how Cisco will leverage the cloud in key growth areas, such as video.
Benioff's cloud experience was a key benefit in getting him onto the board, according to Cisco CEO John Chambers.
"Marc has changed the face of technology through his bold ideas around cloud computing and the social enterprise," Chambers said in a statement.
Over the past 13 years, Benioff, a former Oracle executive, has grown Salesforce.com into an $18 billion company with more than 6,000 employees and 90,000 customers, pioneering the idea that businesses didn't have to run enterprise software on their own systems, but rather could access the applications over the Internet.
This came at a time when Microsoft, Oracle, SAP and other enterprise applications vendors were making billions of dollars selling software on disks to businesses. Benioff's software-as-a-service (SaaS) approach has since influenced these companies and others to adopt similar cloud strategies.
In a 2011 interview with eWEEK, Rob Enderle, principal analyst at The Enderle Group, said Benioff and Salesforce.com essentially defined cloud computing as it's known currently.
"Salesforce.com was really the first big wake-up call on cloud computing, coming before we really understood what it meant," Enderle said. "They were the test case that showcased the massive advantages of going in this direction, and, for the most part, the cloud computing industry owes much of its success--particularly in the applications space--to them."
Cisco offers a number of cloud products and services, many of them under the CloudVerse umbrella. Included in the offerings is Cisco's Unified Computing System (UCS), a converged data center solution that offers tightly integrated server, networking, storage, virtualization and management software that is aimed at cloud infrastructure environments. After three years, Cisco has more than 11,000 UCS customers, and the business has an annual run rate of more than $1.3 billion, officials said in June.
This article was originally published on 08-03-2012