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12/19/2008
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Bob Evans
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Oracle's Larry Ellison On 'Series Of Wins Vs. Salesforce'

Oracle founder and CEO Larry Ellison yesterday told financial analysts that Oracle's latest quarter was "conspicuous" for a "series of competitive wins versus Salesforce.com," including "our largest deal ever of salesforce-on-demand, or cloud computing, or whatever you want to call it." Will that head-to-head competition lead to a buyers' market for CIOs?

Oracle founder and CEO Larry Ellison yesterday told financial analysts that Oracle's latest quarter was "conspicuous" for a "series of competitive wins versus Salesforce.com," including "our largest deal ever of salesforce-on-demand, or cloud computing, or whatever you want to call it." Will that head-to-head competition lead to a buyers' market for CIOs?The sparring between Oracle and Salesforce, and increasingly between Ellison and his counterpart, CEO Marc Benioff, has been getting more intense lately as Salesforce wants to extend its reach more deeply into the enterprise and as Oracle gets more aggressive with its SaaS and cloud -- "or whatever you want to call it" -- strategies.

Just this week, my colleague Rob Preston touched on the escalating scrap between Oracle/Salesforce in a column highlighting an interview he'd just had with Benioff:

Yet Benioff singles out Oracle and Larry Ellison as Salesforce's biggest threat. "When you see him coming out so strongly against cloud computing, you know he's worried," Benioff says, noting that Ellison is a student of Sun Tzu's The Art of War -- when weak, feign strength. It's also worth noting that Ellison, Benioff's former boss at Oracle, owns a chunk of Salesforce, so Benioff isn't so quick to slag off the master as he is to go after Microsoft.

In the analyst call yesterday, though, Ellison showed no hesitancy whatsoever about talking up a string of victories he said Oracle has racked up at Salesforce's expense. Ellison said Oracle just landed its biggest cloud deal to date and emphasized that it was not only "a competitive win over Salesforce.com" but also "a replacement of Salesforce.com."

"The customer will be de-installing Salesforce and replacing it with Oracle Sales on Demand, so we're very excited about that," Ellison told the analysts. "When we compete head to head with Salesforce, we win more deals than we lose and that's new in the last couple of quarters."

Looks like what we've got here is one of those irresistible forces meeting an immovable object, and something's gotta give. And perhaps that give will be a gift to CIOs in the form of a price war between at least Oracle and Salesforce, and possibly SAP as well. And that means cloud computing or SaaS or on-demand -- "or whatever you want to call it" -- is beginning to wield some huge influence across the enterprise.

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