Salesforce's Benioff: "Clouds aren't in a box"

Summary:At a presentation to introduce Chatter 2, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff takes some jabs at Larry Ellison's definition of cloud computing.

On the main keynote stage of Oracle OpenWorld on Sunday night, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison took some jabs at Salesforce.com as he offered his own definition of the cloud - a preface to his introduction of a $1 million "cloud-in-a-box" piece of hardware called Exalogic.

Also: Oracle's Exalogic box: Cloud washing at its best?

Today, in a theater next door to the convention hall, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff responded to Ellison's jabs - and grabbed far more laughs that Ellison did.

The response: Ellison jabs at Salesforce, recaps Exalogic before finally previewing Fusion in closing keynote

Benioff, an animated character whose sarcasm goes a long way of proving his points, started his presentation by thanking Ellison for the mentions on the keynote stage, including Ellison's mocking of Benioff's "Behind the Cloud" book. (Thanks for the plug, Benioff said. Book sales went up on Sunday night.)

Benioff was in rare form, banging out one-liners that jabbed at Ellison's vision of what cloud computing is. Some of the highlights:

  • "We come in peace. We're the cloud people. We are the peaceful people."
  • "We're not attacking anyone's book here. We're here to motivate you, excite you, open doors for you and show you the potential of a new world - cloud computing."
  • "The cloud is a multi-tenant shared architecture that runs on a pay-as-you-go model," not a million dollars just to get started.
  • Salesforce loves reaching out to startups. "The cloud serves companies of every size. It's the democratization of computing."
  • "If Salesforce didn't exist, how many big servers would (Salesforce customers) have had to buy?" He also asks: What would have been the emissions and CO2 output of those machines?
  • Is Salesforce asking you to buy more hardware and software and issue patches? No. It's all just seamless on the cloud.
  • "Beware of the False Cloud," he said, as an image of a big computing box appears on the screen with a cloud lifted to show part of the IBM logo."
  • "We're moving to a new world. It's about next generation apps and next generation platforms."
  • And, as he wrapped up his riff on cloud computing, he held up a black and white "sailboat" banner that read "I Surrender," a move that prompted laughs when he told the audience that he didn't actually own a sailboat - yet another jab at Ellison.

The purpose of Benioff's presentation,however, was not to simply poke fun at Oracle and its CEO. He was there to introduce and demo Chatter 2, a major upgrade to Chatter that is being released next month. To do so, he talked about all of the advantages of the cloud, starting off by poking holes in Ellison's interpretation of it. On stage, he said:

We're not going to show you computers taller than you. We're not going to show you a cloud in a box because clouds aren't in a box. They never were. That's the whole idea.

His comments may have prompted some laughs but he was right. And just to add a bit of fuel to the fire, he showcased a retweet from Amazon CTO Werner Vogels earlier this week:

Considering Ellison was showcasing Amazon as more of a cloud company than Salesforce during his Sunday night keynote, the tweet from Vogels says a lot about who has a firm grasp on what cloud computing is all about - and who doesn't.

Topics: Enterprise Software

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