I recently had a conversation with Jeremy Roche, who is CEO at CODA, a high-end accounting software solutions vendor with more than 30 years in the business. Roche told me how his company began on the HP 3000, then moved to the DEC VAX, client/server and all the way to today where CODA recently began offering a cloud-based application built on the Force.com platform. For CODA, the cloud represents another step in the evolution of enterprise computing.

Roche says they considered a lot of ways to approach a cloud solution, including building their own data centers, before deciding upon Force.com. He says in the end, it just made sense to build on an existing infrastructure rather than building one from scratch.

Seeing a Future in the Clouds

Roche says his company has always considered the next generation of computing solutions. If it didn't he joked, his company would still be on HP 3000 computers and had been out of business long ago. That's why the company began looking at the cloud market two years ago. "We decided we wanted to be a part of it," he says. What the company saw was a delivery method that was on the uptake and one that could give them inroads into markets that traditionally couldn't afford CODA's high-end solutions.

Taking Advantage of the Existing Infrastructure

Roche's team began exploring its options including building a data center and hosting a cloud application, but they quickly saw this was not the way to go. "When we looked at metrics, the investment you would have to make to scale and provide security and up time and everything else, it is an enormous investment," Roche explains. By going with Force.com, he says, he was taking advantage of the investment that Salesforce.com had already made, which let CODA concentrate on building the cloud version of its product.

"I've joined into their architecture. If I hadn't done that," he says "I would have to build my own data center." Not only would that have been expensive, then he would have faced questions about his track record keeping a data center up and running. By going with the Force.com solution, he says, he reduced the cost and the risk. With that out of the way, Roche says, his company concentrated on building a cloud version of its existing application and was able to go from conception to delivery in just a year. In fact, CODA's cloud application when live last November.

Answering Cloud Critics

Roche says that for those who say that Cloud Computing can't scale to the needs of a large organization, look no further than Salesforce.com itself or even Gmail (or other Google services). "Salesforce.com has 1.2m users on its platform. If that's not scalable show me something that is. Gmail is SaaS and how many million users are on that?" he asks. As for the recent Gmail outage, Roche says people are going to howl about it, but he suggest looking instead at the amount of time it has been down.

For Roche, it's about moving forward with new platforms, just as his company has always done as it has evolved with enterprise computing itself. Cloud computing is just another step in that evolution and he believes that businesses have to change or face being less relevant.