Salesforce.com's strategic partnership with Oracle announced last week is "a betrayal" of the vendor's cloud brand messages around "no software, multi-tenancy" and "no false clouds," according to Constellation Research analyst Ray Wang. The move may disappoint Salesforce.com early adopters and evangelists, he said, but it might also lead to growth through private-cloud deployments.
Wang's remarks were shared with Wells Fargo tech securities analyst Jason Maynard in a Monday conference call in which the two discussed the implications of the nine-year Oracle-Salesforce partnership. Given Salesforce.com's commitment to use Oracle Linux, Oracle Database, Oracle Java Middleware and Oracle Exadata, the two speculated that Salesforce could offer its CRM software preinstalled on the Oracle stack, ready to run in private-cloud deployments.
Asked during a press conference last week whether such a move was in the offing, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff demurred, noting that the U.S. government had asked for its own cloud instance, but that most customers are only interested in public-cloud, multi-tenant services.
"He didn't say yes and he didn't say no; he said not yet," said Maynard. "Maybe moving in this direction is what Salesforce.com needs to do to continue to grow because it opens up regulated industries and opportunities in Europe."
[ Want more on last week's big industry shakeup? Read Oracle's Week Of Mega Deals Leaves Questions. ]
Wang agreed, saying such a move could mean a "10X bump" in sales opportunities for Salesforce, opening up the markets in financial services and in China where cloud deployment isn't popular. Microsoft's ability to offer Microsoft Dynamics CRM on-premises and in the cloud has helped it outsell Salesforce.com, he said.
"For every 100 CRM deals that we saw last year, about 43 went to Microsoft Dynamics and about 38 went to Salesforce," said Wang. "The reason Dynamics beat out Salesforce is because there was an on-premises option."
As for Oracle applications, Salesforce and Oracle agreed to integrate their cloud offerings, a move that will give Oracle's human capital management (HCM) and financial cloud apps a boost. Will that make business more difficult for Workday, Maynard asked?
"For customers, I don't think this changes things; the Workday pipeline is huge," Wang said, noting personal loyalty to Workday's co-founders (and former PeopleSoft executives) Aneel Bhusri and Dave Duffield. "Customers are paying more to be on Workday than to be on Oracle ... and they're saying 'we're going with Workday because we know our folks can use it and it works.'"
Nonetheless, Workday might do well to find new friends in the industry now that partner Salesforce.com has grown closer to Oracle. A good bet might be alliances with IBM or SAP. IBM has tight ties with Sugar CRM, for instance, which would complement Workday's apps. At SAP the Workday-competitive SuccessFactors unit would complicate a deal, Wang said, but SAP's global payroll presence would be a nice fit with Workday.
"SAP has the most comprehensive global payroll system in nearly every country managing every regulation and change, so that could be an interesting alliance," he explained.
Wang is counting on big things from Oracle's cloud-oriented 12c database because, he said, it will bring tremendous cost advantages to Oracle cloud apps and cloud partners including Salesforce.com and NetSuite.
"12c with the pluggable database architecture, we believe, is going to create a 5X cost savings for customers that use that feature because they can use fewer processors to support more databases per box," he explained.
"The belief is that because of 12c you're going to need fewer boxes, and we're hearing that with Exadata there's anywhere from a 30% to 40% gain on performance" over Oracle Database deployed on conventional servers, Wang said. "We're trying to validate that, but we don't know for sure."
With last week's apps partnerships, Salesforce.com and NetSuite will soon run on 12c (which is available from Oracle's site but has yet to be formally announced). And with the Microsoft deal, 12c will also soon be available on Microsoft Azure (as well as the Oracle and Amazon clouds).
Those moves leave cloud database initiatives by rivals IBM, Microsoft and SAP looking rather puny by comparison. And it puts the one piece of software that Oracle cares most about, its database, in an enviable position in the tech industry's fastest-growing market: the cloud.