salesforce may be preparing for the day when software will become a utility

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My only question about Salesforce’s recent revenue announcement is why the company described the vast majority of its nonprofessional services revenues as “subscription and support.” Proserv revenues were appropriately small, at US$224 million, while subscription and support was $3.17 billion, or 26 percent more than the same quarter a year earlier. Nice going, by the way.

Salesforce growth is seemingly nonstop, and the company raised guidance to $16 billion at the high end of its range for the next fiscal year, 2020. Fast growing, big, capturing lots of revenue and probably much of the oxygen in the CRM room — I get that. Still, why subscription and support, as if they were distinct?

Hinting at Consolidation?

The whole premise of Software as a Service, or subscription software, always has been that everything is rolled up into one price, including the service itself, a modicum of support, maintenance, enhancements, and the infrastructure that runs it all.

Maybe the answer has been there all along and I have missed it — or maybe Salesforce’s labeling reflects some subtle changes that are going on at Oracle.

A couple of quarters ago, Oracle merged its revenue categories into one hairball, obscuring the fact that the Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) number was a lot smaller than the SaaS and platform numbers. I’ve maintained the company did that because it didn’t have the fully deployed cloud data centers it needed to be more aggressive in the market.

That’s changing, though. An Oracle cloud data center is no small thing. It’s complex and expensive — full of redundancy, failover, high bandwidth and such — and Oracle has been deploying data centers as quickly as possible.

Other vendors, Salesforce included, have partnered with infrastructure providers like Amazon. Its AWS service can host Salesforce — especially in foreign markets, as the company spreads its wings and bows to international pressure to place data centers near or in the country where the data originates.

Oracle won’t do that for…