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9/23/2010
11:45 AM
Bob Evans
Bob Evans
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Global CIO: Larry Ellison Sparring With Marc Benioff? Priceless.

Trading potshots over differing cloud philosophies, Ellison and Benioff reveal some valuable questions to consider in devising a great cloud-computing strategy.

"Salesforce.com is really one or two applications on the Internet," Ellison said. "It's basically just a salesforce-automation app on the cloud, and is primarily just SaaS apps with a very limited platform.

"It is not virtualized; in fact, it's just the opposite," Ellison said. "With Salesforce.com, hundreds of thousands of customers have to commingle their data to use these applications, so GE's data is in there mixed up right next to Siemens' data and so on—and the result is that really it is a very weak security model."

Ellison went on to say Salesforce.com lacks fault-tolerant architecture, is not secure, and is not elastic. "You've got many customers and their data just coexist in the same database, and since there's no fault-isolation, a system failure brings down many customers. And, it's not elastic." (End of excerpt.)

Ellison also got a tad personal, showing a slide with a copy of Benioff's latest book, called "Behind The Cloud," obscured by a touched-up copy of that book with the amended name of "WAY Behind The Cloud."

That opened the door for and gave inspiration to Benioff, a guy who's always more than happy to open doors for himself and rarely needs any external spark to get his own engine cranked.

And Benioff, true to his nature, didn't miss the opportunity during his Wednesday morning featured presentation in a big theater that, while not an official part of the Open World program, nevertheless took place with Oracle's full blessing and was smack-dab in the middle of the massive (41,000 attendees) event:

"We come in peace!" Benioff boomed in his opening remarks, with a big smile on his face. "And I want to thank Larry for the great advertising he gave Salesforce.com on Sunday night, and his kind words. And my thanks also to Safra and to Mark as well [Oracle presidents Safra Catz and Mark Hurd]."

Working the crowd—"Beware the false cloud!"—with the lilting cadence of an evangelist preacher, Benioff intoned, "What we have is a counteropinion" to prevailing wisdom! "We're peaceful . . . we're not attacking anyone's book here! We're here to motivate, to entertain, to excite, to open the door to a new world, a door into the future! We're here to share new technology and new ideas!"

And then 6'4" Benioff, lampooning Oracle's giant new Exalogic (which Ellison called "Cloud in a Box") and Exadata optimized systems featured prominently on the keynote stage at Open World, said, "We're not gonna show you new computers taller than I am or clouds in a box because clouds aren't in a box! And they never were in a box!"

As the audience roared with laughter, Benioff described how he left Oracle 12 years ago "to have a mission, to be a driver, to be an evangelist of the next generation of cloud computing," and showed some statistics about Salesforce.com's impressive growth, including the company reaching the $1.5 billion mark in revenue (coincidentally, that's the same annual revenue run rate that Oracle has reported for its new Exadata machine):

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