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Oracle's Week Of Mega Deals Leaves Questions

As Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff heaps compliments on Larry Ellison, what's the future for Oracle cloud apps, Force.com?
We heard Ellison ridicule Force.com's "proprietary" Apex code and Heroku's "non-industry standard" Java repeatedly at Oracle Open World. Salesforce is like a Roach Motel, he said: "Your apps check in, but they don't check out."

Benioff did his best to skirt around the question of how the Oracle partnership changes Force.com support for Java development, saying, "we want to continue to do more with Java. This is a great opening for us to go even farther with Java and Oracle. And I hope Java developers will feel welcome using the Salesforce.com infrastructure."

Then Ellison kind of swept away all doubt and made it clear that nothing has changed -- yet.

[ Want more on Oracle's partnership with NetSuite? Read Oracle, NetSuite Partner To Storm Cloud. ]

"There are going to be opportunities for Oracle and Salesforce to work together on the language part of the platform..." he began, "...but this is an area where we're not ready to announce any kind of agreement. It's an area where Salesforce.com and Oracle can explore. If it makes sense, we'll have another announcement, have another call and make all the developers happy."

The kind of leaves you wondering just how Salesforce.com will use Oracle Java Middleware internally for the Salesforce.com application versus how it supports Java development on Force.com and Heroku. Oracle-licensed Java seemed to make a difference to Microsoft in their partnership. Microsoft previously used the Open Java Development Kit to support Java on Azure, but it said Oracle licensing made it a "first class" development option on Azure.

Happy Talk Ahead?

Are the days of hearing all those fun and entertaining pointed barbs from Ellison and Benioff over? This was one of the ten or so questions that actually got through during the conference call on Thursday.

"I hope it's not the end of the fun because that's one of the things that I enjoy most about our industry," responded Benioff, who in the past showed pictures of Oracle Exadata with a "False Cloud" logo on top. "We've always enjoyed working together and having fun with each other. Hopefully it will be the end to us getting a little too revved up at times."

That "revved up" comment was an obvious reference to past incidents such as Benioff's protest keynote staged at the St. Regis Hotel across the street from the Moscone Center when Oracle switched his speaking slot at the last minute.

"I'm sure both Marc and I are going to try to continue to be entertaining while making sure that the entertainment never distracts from our commitment to work together," Ellison said.

No doubt the guns will be turned on competitors who don't have a commitment to work together. Ellison may not pick on Salesforce.com anymore, but watch out for more barbs pointed at IBM and SAP. And with the imminent release of Oracle Database 12c, expect a double dose of security scare talk and object-database aspersions cast in Workday's direction.

As for Benioff, it's easy to imagine him turning up the heat on SAP and cooling his rhetoric about Oracle. Given the HCM and Financials tieup with Oracle, it seems like Salesforce has thrown its erstwhile partner Workday under the bus, but it's hard to imagine Benioff trading barbs with his cloud computing peers. He has played the cloud computing champion for a long time, but now it might be harder for Benioff to cast himself as the rebel against the old way of doing things.

"This partnership ends any vestige of Salesforce’s claims of independence from Oracle," commented SAP in a statement. "All the past squabbling about false clouds and keynotes now appears as sincere as a professional wrestling match."

Will Salesforce and NetSuite eventually wind up in the Oracle portfolio, with Ellison in semi-retirement as Chairman and Benioff as the new CEO? It's easy to picture the two sipping Mai Tai cocktails together in Hawaii, plotting Oracle's next moves.