Following on from ZDNet's Larry Dignan's post regarding a recent CNET News.com interview with Mark Benioff I got to thinking that Salesforce.com must be hedging that platform-as-a-service (PaaS) will take 10 years. I think it will happen much sooner.
As hard as it is to create a "platform" of the scale and flexibility necessary to actually be a platform, Salesforce is not starting from scratch and has the horsepower and market share to pull it off much quicker. I wonder what Mark Benioff thinks is missing? Salesforce.com already has the database, some of the applications (CRM, support etc.), and their own scripting language.
I suppose one piece that is only halfway there would be the APIs for desktop applications. And one very clear missing piece is a way to integrate the PaaS with enterprise applications--and other SaaS applications.
This leads me to believe that integration is the key to PaaS...which also may mean that Workday was extremely wise in picking up the Cape Clear fire sale. It's especially interesting in that once technology goes behind the firewall it doesn't matter if it meets anyone else's needs.
My guess is that if Salesforce.com started taking seriously the need to operate seamlessly in and out of the PaaS it would come to pass much quicker.