Salesforce opens its biggest conference of the year in San Francisco today under a fog unrelated to the legendary natural mists that haunt the city. The haze is lingering from a massive outage Salesforce customers on multiple continents experienced just three days before the start of Dreamforce 2013.

Bad Timing

The Dreamforce conference kicks off a week long extravaganza of lectures and presentations on Salesforce cloud based sales technology. It will provide a good opportunity for Salesforce to recover from the embarrassment Friday when a routine system update went awry.

The glitch took down across much of North America and most of Europe for as long as three hours. According to the company's  System Status page, seven out of 17 instances in North America were affected, as were two out of four in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region.

But things appear to be back to normal now. And at $1,200 per person, it is unlikely the snafu will keep any registered Dreamforce attendees away. In fact, Dreamforce 2013 is expected to be the largest Salesforce conference yet. Anywhere from 70,000 to 90,000 people are expected to attend, David Trujillo, a Dreamforce organizer, told

"There are 1,000 breakout sessions, the most at any Dreamforce conference. It's also being held at the biggest campus yet," he said. Running through Thursday at the Moscone Center, the campus includes a blocked off street in a busy San Francisco neighborhood, three convention center buildings and several hotels.

Lectures and presentations are broken down by role, industry and product. Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and Deepak Chopra are among the keynote speakers. 

But it's not all work and no play:  there's a concert at AT&T park tomorrow night featuring the punk rock band Green Day and new wave legend Blondie.

The whole event promises to be as much as a spectacle as a similar event Oracle held in October. Oracle OpenWorld followed a similar format — right down to blocking off the same street near the Moscone Center.

Of course, because Oracle boasted it had 60,000 attendees, Salesforce claims it will have at least 70,000. The rivalry between the two companies knows no bounds.

Dreamforce clearly has its supporters. "There's no better business conference in the world," Zachary Jeans, a Portland based social media consultant, told us in an email.

Learning Opportunities

Crystal Gustavson, a communications professional at Arizona State University, said she is excited at the idea of attending both parties and networking events. But she also hopes to see how others in the education field are using Salesforce — and was also enthusiastic at the prospect of seeing Sandberg's keynote.

What to Look For

As the Dreamforce moniker implies, expect at least one big, fanciful announcement from Salesforce this week. Beyond that, there will be likely news about product integration updates and road maps.

We're especially curious to hear about progress on the ExactTarget integration and any marketing automation innovations. Road maps for ExactTarget and Chatter will also be helpful, a fact on which a number of attendees seem to agree. Sessions on these topics are filled to capacity. 

We're also interested in hearing about the plans Salesforce has for its social tools. There are about 70 sessions dedicated to social marketing. Sessions on social listening and content marketing are also booked up, as is a session today on turning likes into leads.

There is also the Cloud Expo, the showcase of Salesforce partners and integrators, and product demos (and sales teams) galore on the show floor.  CMSWire will be at Dreamforce 2013 all week, and we'll be posting tweets, photos and news from the conference regularly on our feed and here on the website. Dream on!

Title image by Peter Amen / Twitter @amen_p.