Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff tried to take the high road after Oracle CEO Larry Ellison earlier this week bashed his company as a cloud computing pretender. But unfortunately, the high road was apparently closed.
In a keynote speech Wednesday at the Novellus Theater next to San Francisco's Moscone Center, Benioff's started off with a conciliatory tone, thanking Ellison for the publicity he generated with his comments.
"We come in peace," Benioff told the audience as he took the stage. "We are cloud people, and because of that we are peaceful people."
Of course, Benioff isn't one to shrink from criticism, particularly when it comes from his former boss and mentor. Benioff proceeded to return serve against Ellison with characteristic zeal, peppering a 45-minute presentation with jabs at Oracle's new Exalogic Elastic Cloud server, a massive piece of hardware that Oracle is positioning as a private cloud-in-a-box.
"I'm not going to show you new computers that are taller than I am, and I'm not going to show you a cloud in a box, because clouds were not meant to be in a box," Benioff declared, triggering a wave of giggling through the audience of roughly 1,000 OpenWorld attendees.
Benioff also took aim at Oracle's mantra of software that's optimized for the underlying hardware, which reflects the company's ongoing integration of Sun Microsystems. In the cloud, Benioff said, "You don’t have to have hardware and software engineered to work together."
Ellison, in his opening keynote at OpenWorld on Sunday, said Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) meets his own definition of a true cloud computing service, but said Salesforce.com "is really only one or two applications that run on the Internet." Ellison also criticized Salesforce.com's security model as well as the company's policy of billing on a per-user basis instead of for the amount of resources consumed.
In Salesforce.com's view, the key attributes of the cloud are multi-tenancy, speedier performance, lower cost, and the ability to pay as you go and scale up or down as needed, Benioff said, noting that Salesforce's customers run from small companies all the way up to the largest enterprises.
"The cloud is about democracy," Benioff said. "It's not about the very rich or elitist or cult of high end."
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