Adobe and Salesforce in Close Race for Marketing Cloud

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Salesforce.com (CRM) CFO Graham Smith couldn't have picked a better time to leave the cloud computing giant, retiring at a time when a change of face at the CFO level probably wouldn't make a major difference to investors.

In its latest reported quarter, Salesforce produced a large display of above-target financial numbers, demonstrated "stickiness" with all-time low attrition rates and soaring large enterprise deals, and continued to stoke interest in its new sales leadership and strategies with the recently-introduced Salesforce1 platform. Shares quickly rebounded from news of Smith's retirement coupled with a wider GAAP loss.

The details of the earnings call last week once again underscored that it's essentially been smooth sailing for Salesforce's customer relationship management solutions business or sales cloud, by far the largest piece of its cloud solution. This business has basically been left unchallenged by competitors such as Oracle (ORCL), SAP (SAP) and Microsoft (MSFT), with the first two still unable to catch up to Salesforce after their delayed entry into the sales cloud.

Meanwhile Microsoft Dynamics, which includes marketing solutions as well, made bets on a less profitable market, focusing on smaller companies when they should have been putting more effort into selling to large enterprises, which later turned out to be the heaviest adopters of the cloud.

Salesforce's recent Salesforce1 development has pushed it even further ahead of the curve. While the components of the platform in and of themselves are nothing new, the aggregation of these parts into one, one-stop, centralized solution that pulls together key elements of the company's CRM offerings plus aspects of the recently-bought ExactTarget digital marketing cloud platform has been widely praised for providing a rare alternative to the more tiring display of disjointed offerings currently crowding the market.

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