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Cloud Computing Panel at Web 2.0 Summit

Yesterday, an all-star panel at the TechWeb/O’Reilly’s Web 2.0 Summit took a closer look at the implications of the current shift towards cloud computing and discussed the possible business models around it. The panel featured Adobe’s CTO Kevin Lynch, Salesfore.com’s CEO Marc Benioff, Google’s Dave Girouard, and VMware’s CEO Paul Maritz. The panel was moderated by Tim O’Reilly.

Moderator Tim O’Reilly asked the panelists about their companies’ stake in cloud computing and how they thought about it in their specific businesses. VMware’s President and CEO Paul Maritz sees his company’s role as supplying businesses with the “underlying plumping” that will allow them to become more ‘cloud-like’ internally, and, through this, allowing them to leverage the external cloud as well.

Adobe’s Kevin Lynch considers it his company’s role to enable the “fourth generation of software” that will bring a fusion of cloud computing and rich desktop applications to users (by using Adobe Air, of course). At the same time, though, he also acknowledged that Adobe is looking at purely web-based applications with Photoshop.com and Acrobat.com, though he sees Adobe’s focus as being on enabling technologies.

In contrast to this, Dave Girouard, who manages Google’s enterprise business, sees it as Google’s mission to bring users “entirely into the cloud” and not just to create a “cloud-like” experience. Girouard also used this opportunity to chastise the enterprise computing world as ‘stagnant’ and ‘unenlightened’ when it comes to considering the user experience for its clients and employees.

Saleforce.com’s CEO Marc Benioff mostly talked about the importance of developers in building applications on top of Salesforce.com.

In the second part of the interview, the panelists spent most of the time talking about delivering value in the cloud and possible business models around cloud computing.

Comparing his company to Oracle and SAP, Benioff said they were “dying models” and comparing Salesforce.com to them would not even be fair.

Most of the panelists agreed that Microsoft’s entry into the cloud computing business validated the market and, maybe unsurprisingly, argued that developers should look at the different options that are available to them now and decide which one would work best for the apps they are building.

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