I’m sending a Hello Kitty flash drive to Salesforce.com

So, it has come to this.  I am on the verge of buying a Hello Kitty flash drive and sending it to the cloud, aka Salesforce.com. Why would I so such a thing, you ask?

I’ve discovered that Salesforce.com allots you 1,000 MB (that’s one gigabyte in 21st-Century speak) for data storage.  That’s what holds your accounts and contacts and opportunities and stuff. If you blow that cap, they kindly offer to rent you 50 MB for $300/year or 250 MB for $1,500/year.  The larger plan nets out to $6 per megabyte per year.

On the other hand, I can buy this cute 8 GB drive for a whisker under $20.  That’s about a quarter of a cent per megabyte, for as long as Hello Kitty can hold on to that cute pink balloon.

If Salesforce sold a flash drive like this, you might expect it to cost $48,000.
Per year.
Without the cute ears.

What could account for this 2,400x price difference? I’m not so naive to believe that cheap flash memory is as good as Salesforce’s cloud, or that storage is all they’re really charging for, but pricing enterprise data storage by the megabyte still seems awfully out of touch to me.

Don’t forget that for more than five users, Salesforce is already charging at least $65 per user per month. If you’ve got ore than 50 users, they’ll even throw in 20 MB more storage for each user starting with user 51.  $65 x 50 user x 12 mos/year = $39,000 a year for a 50 user  organization, and you get one gigabyte of data storage. One.

A Flickr “pro” account gets you “unlimited” photo storage for $25/year and a free gmail account has 10 GB of inbox storage, a figure that I bet Google will increase over time, as you may remember it was just a single gigabyte when the service launched.  If you pay for Google Apps for Business, your inbox is 25 GB for each user at $50/user/year.  (That last plan is 1/3,000 the per megabyte price at Salesforce, just sayin’)

I thought the promise of the cloud was virtually unlimited cheap storage.  Google gets that, even Yahoo does.  I hope Salesforce gets the memo soon, especially since they hang their hat on being all about the cloud.

So will I launch Hello Kitty to the cloud? Not likely, but I feel better for having vented. Now it’s time to run a big mass delete job to bring my storage use back down to an affordable level.

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3 comments

  1. Seema

    very good and telling.. you should retweet or repost this on Linkedin. Another racquet is server based pricing of some of the data discovery BI vendors – they talk of personal BI but not really as IT has to be involved in the setup.

  2. wombat

    I won’t defend sfdc’s pricing. I’m not sure why the number is exactly what it is and why don’t know why it can’t be made cheaper. I’ll point out a few flaws in your analysis.

    Flaw #1 (minor):

    sfdc’s pricing docs http://www.salesforce.com/crm/editions-pricing.jsp http://www2.sfdcstatic.com/assets/pdf/datasheets/DS_SalesCloud_EdCompare.pdf mention 2 types of storage:

    1) Data Storage
    2) File Storage

    The 1GB you mentioned is for data storage. You went on to compare sfdc with flickr and gmail. sfdc gives you 10GB file storage with each edition. So the 10GB file storage is the number to compare with flickr and gmail not the 1GB data storage. Doesn’t exonerate the price but you should be aware that data and file are two completely different beasts. Here’s a good writeup, if somewhat dated: http://www.shellblack.com/salesforce/plan/storage/

    The file storage pricing probably reflects a lack of competition in the low entropy / structured data / citizen developer / citizen admin type of system that sfdc operates, or at least in their corner of that market.

    Flaw #2 (major):

    The Hello Kitty flash drive costs $20.

    Things you don’t get with the Hello Kitty flash drive (when used for data storage or file storage):

    Costs not reflected in the $20 price:

    IT staff
    Developers
    Security experts
    Performance experts
    Legal experts
    On call staff
    Cost of recovery / failover support
    Cost of automatic upgrades
    Cost of integration with data storage, analytics/reporting, platform features including custom apps, schemas, security, etc..
    Cost of elastic scalability
    Cost of integration with racks of Hello Kitty flash drives (assuming we’re replacing sfdc’s SANs with such drives)

    Benefits not reflected in the $20 price:

    Price reduction from economies of scale of being in the cloud (in a radically multi-tenant system)

    The big question is why don’t the price reductions from the benefits outweigh the costs and bring the data/file storage down to the $20 Hello Kitty level? Good question. A question that wasn’t addressed at all in your post.

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