Saturday, January 28, 2012

New Year, first post.

 

Happy New year ,everyone. Yeah, I know, this post is long overdue.  I changed jobs some time last year, and the work at the new place is not exactly what I expected.  Crazy deadlines, unrealistic requirements, last minute changes…the works.

But I did get to learn more about this whole CRM world.. And here’s hoping I find more time to share more of what I learn.

I began my career on Siebel 5 years ago, and it has been my bread and butter. The tried and tested On-Premise mode of CRM installation has always been popular with the blue chip and Fortune 500 clients I had the opportunity to work for.  Although cloud based applications are gaining foothold, most of my employer’s clients steered away from sharing mission critical data on the web. They seem to feel more comfortable maintaining and storing their customers data in company’s storage rooms. A lot of them have have simply said no to SalesForce CRM because they don”t get to secure their customer’s data. But all that is changing.

SalesForce.com has understood this customer concern, and the have decided to do something about it. This year, they will introduce a new feature called Data Residency Option or DRO. Simply put, DRO will enable On Premise storage of mission critical data on Cloud.com servers, which can be setup inside client office locations.

DRO will be a part of database.com - a cloud database Salesforce made generally available. It gives an option to the customers of Salesforce to store their mission critical data at their own location and hence keeping complete control of the inward and outward flow of the data across the customer firewall.

The technique developed by Navajo, also called Virtual Private Saas, provides the cloud vendor, Salesforce.com in this case, a key that enables it to translate the encrypted data as it passes through its cloud application. The data is then re-encrypted as it leaves the cloud vendor's solution and returns to the customer's data source. The corporate data is unreadable on cloud provider's servers during this entire operation. VPS is available both as a cloud service, as well as an appliance sitting on the customer's local or Wide area network. With VPS, the customer is solely responsible for its data security as it will hold all the encryption keys.

The flip side to using such a technique would be the security of the encryption and decryption keys used for the process. It is highly critical to properly manage the keys as once the key is lost, the encrypted data can no longer be accessed. Hence, this calls for robust key management to avoid any such eventuality.

But, barring the above, In my view, this technique will overcome the most important impediment to cloud adoption and will be a foundation of technological acceptance as it addresses the key customer fear i.e. about potential data threats in the cloud.

Coming to the acquisition, Navajo systems, founded in 2009 was one of the existing encryption service providers for Salesforce. Salesforce decision to acquire Navajo hence made a lot of sense when other cloud based CRM tools such as Sugar CRM already has possible options for deployment on public clouds (Amazon EC2, Rackspace etc.), private clouds such as VMWare and also on-site behind customer firewalls.

According to a recent report from IBIS World, one of the world's largest independent publishers of U.S. industry research, CRM industry today stands at 60% on-premise deployments and 40% cloud based solutions (1). For customers who are looking for new purchases or upgrade of their legacy applications, DRO might just be the key decision influencer. Let's wait and watch!!

References:

(1) http://www.destinationcrm.com/Articles/Columns-Departments/Insight/Are-CRMs-Worst-Years-Behind-It-79254.aspx

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