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9/23/2010
11:45 AM
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.

"Ladies and gentlemen, I am here to tell you without a doubt that applications are moving to the cloud—that's something I've been talking about for a decade," he continued. "You don't have to go out and create some whole new idea about 'software and hardware engineered to work together' because in the cloud they already DO work together! That's the whole point!" he shouted as the audience laughed.

"So I really don't understand that philosophy."

Benioff then invited Michael Dell out on stage and peppered their prepared dialogue with some barbed ad-lib comments and questions about giant computers and such, clearly presenting Dell with what was probably a very awkward moment because, after all, just two hours earlier, Dell had given a keynote talk as part of the formal Oracle Open World program and spoke glowingly about his company's ongoing work with Oracle.

Dell didn't take Benioff's bait other than to laugh a bit, but it still made for an interesting sideshow to the Ellison-Benioff main attraction.

And in Ellison's response a few hours later during his second keynote address, he brought Dell the company very much into his remarks in a way that I don't think was at all coincidental (nothing Larry Ellison does is coincidental, in my opinion).

Trying hard to stick to his planned discussion of the imminent rollout of Fusion apps, Ellison couldn't resist slapping back at Benioff, and he seemed to add Dell the company into his rebuff as well:

"So we also call the Exalogic Elastic Cloud our 'cloud in a box.' Now, I heard that at Marc Benioff's speech this morning, Salesforce.com said that Larry just doesn't get it, that clouds don't run in a box," Ellison said with a smile that didn't seem to contain much happiness.

"Well then, what does Marc think that Salesforce runs on, if not on a box? Salesforce runs on 1500 Dell servers, and those are boxes. He also thinks the Dell boxes aren't tall—he really got upset because the Exalogic box was taller than he is—I swear I can't make this stuff up," Ellison said with a laugh.

"Does he think 1500 servers are tiny? 1500 servers take up a massive amount of room and they're no doubt stacked way up high like they are everywhere else—unless they have a very very low ceiling," Ellison quipped to the audience's approval.

Ellison then suggested that if Benioff were truly out to build the best infrastructure for Salesforce.com customers, then he would toss out those Dell servers and go with Oracle's cloud in a box.

"You know, Exalogic is really kind of the ideal box to run Salesforce.com on because then Marc could go from 1500 servers down to, I don't know, maybe 400?" Ellison said. "I think both Salesforce.com and its customers would benefit from looking at Exalogic—it would be ideal for what they're doing. . . . I'm sure Marc will talk to his team and they'll tell him that you really DO need boxes—you just do."

Ellison then returned to his theme from Sunday night's keynote when he blasted the multitenancy architecture used by Salesforce.com and the security nightmare Ellison said such an approach engenders. And remember: Ellison and Benioff frequently say how much they like each other!

"Another thing that Salesforce has that they need to upgrade is 'multitenancy'—they say that's what it makes it officially cloud computing—but it's a horrible idea!" Ellison said. "Every customer has all of its data in the same database with every other customer, just all mixed in: GE and Siemens, all mixed in . . . . Everyone's customer list in the same database—it's just a horrible security model!

"The way you should handle that in the 21st century, Marc, is with 21st-century technology called vir-tual-i-za-tion," Ellison said dramatically before laughing. "Multitenancy is old technology—ancient—and if Salesforce.com upgraded to Exalogic, they could have a lot more than what they now—it would be higher performance and more secure and more reliable and less expensive, unlike what they have now."

So by Wednesday evening Michael Dell, who opened Wednesday morning with a mainstage keynote at Oracle Open World, was getting paddled along with Marc Benioff by Larry Ellison for failing to grasp what cloud computing is all about.

But shed no tears for Benioff, who, in spite of his openings jokes about how "we come in peace," will continue to be a powerful influence in the enterprise space into which he is aggressively pushing his company.

Because just seconds before he finished his own presentation, Benioff unballed a banner that was bunched-up in his hand and unfurled it, saying, "An Oracle salesperson gave me this flag—it says, 'I Surrender.' "

But then he tossed the flag into the audience and called out, "But we're not surrendering—we'll never surrender!"

RECOMMENDED READING:

Global CIO: Larry Ellison And The New Oracle Rock The Tech World

Global CIO: Oracle's New Fusion Apps: An Inside Look

Larry Ellison Rips Red Hat Linux, But Stays Committed

Global CIO: Will Larry Ellison Launch Bidding War With IBM For Netezza?

Global CIO: Oracle Product Chief Offers Glimpse At New Fusion Apps

Global CIO: Oracle Launches 'Cloud In A Box' And New Cloud Business

Global CIO: At Oracle Open World, Oracle Commits To Cloud Computing

Global CIO: Larry Ellison's Top 10 Priorities At Oracle Open World

Global CIO: Larry Ellison Embraces Cloud Computing's 'Idiocy'

Global CIO: Oracle CEO Larry Ellison On The Future Of IT

GlobalCIO Bob Evans is senior VP and director of InformationWeek's Global CIO unit.

To find out more about Bob Evans, please visit his page.

For more Global CIO perspectives, check out Global CIO,
or write to Bob at bevans@techweb.com.

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